Youth in burglary worries Supreme Court Judge

A Supreme Court Justice, Lei'ataualesa Darryl Clarke, has decried the increasing prevalence of burglary offenses committed by youth in Samoa.

Justice Leiataualesa made the point when Kanela Kanela, of Malie, and Amosa Leapai, of Malie and Fusi Safata, appeared before him this week for sentencing in relation to two separate burglary cases.

Kanela appeared for sentencing on one count of burglary and one count of theft which occurred on 12 February 2020 at Nuu-Fou, in which Amosa had already been sentenced for.

“You both also appear for sentencing for burglary and theft and intentional damage that occurred on the 19th May this year,” said Justice Leiataualesa.

According to the Police summary of acts in relation to the burglary and theft, Kanela and Amosa went to the complainant’s house in Nu’u while the family was sleeping. 

It’s alleged they removed items valued at $4,515.70 which were later recovered when the Police tracked the global positioning satellite systems that were installed on one of the phones that was stolen. 

“In respect of the second set of offending in which you both appear for sentencing today, on the 19th May at Nuu, sometime in the early hours of that morning, the both of you went to the complainant’s shop which was securely locked and closed. 

“You both removed the louvers from the side window of the shop and also the screen wire. You then both entered the complainant’s shop without authority and stole various items to the total value of $1,195.98.

“In the process of opening the shop till, you damaged that till to a total value of $450. You then left the property with the stolen properties and fled. The only item that the police were able to recover was the damaged cash register.”

Justice Leiataualesa noted the degree of premeditation in the offence. 

“Kanela and Amosa, burglary and theft is a highly prevalent offence. It always almost involves young men such as yourselves thinking that to burgle people’s homes and businesses is a good idea. It is not. 

“For you Amosa you have prior convictions and were on bail when you committed the May offending. You learned nothing from your earlier experiences and despite those experiences you decided to commit the same offence again. You have shown a blatant disregard for the law.” 

Justice Leiataualesa pointed out that Kanela appeared in court on 2 March 2020 for the burglary and theft from 12 February this year. 

“I directed that you attend the Salvation Army program to help you understand the dangerous of alcohol and how to deal with alcohol. 

“I also expressly told you to make the most of that program as it may save you from imprisonment. Despite what I told you, you ignored what I said and again went with Amosa and burgled a shop on the 19th of May. 

“It is disappointing when young men like you waste the opportunities given to you and ignore what the court has said to you with the hope that you will change your life.” 

Amosa was sentenced to eight months in jail while Justice Leiataualesa ruled that the appropriate sentence for Kanela is a non-custodial one. 

“This is to focus on your rehabilitation because through your rehabilitation, our society is protected. The sentence is intended to help you change your ways and to encourage you not to re-offend in the future. 

“At your age and given the circumstances of your offending, it is not too late for you to change your life nor at juncture, should the court and the community give up on you. 

“While the sentence will focus not only on your rehabilitation, it will also incorporate a significant community work component as a deterrence to you as well as to require you to give back to the community. 

“Should you waste this opportunity and reappear again for similar offending, you almost certainly should expect to go to prison as you will have demonstrated that you are unlikely to rehabilitate. 

“Kanela, you must also understand that if you do not comply with the sentence I impose today, your sentence today can be cancelled by the court and you can then be sent to prison.

“You told me on the 4th August that ‘ua e sasi’. Do not waste this chance. You have been remanded in custody now for some time and have seen what awaits you at Tanumalala should you come back.”

Justice Leiataualesa ordered that for Kanela, he is convicted and sentenced to 18 months supervision with the following conditions: carry out 300 hours of community work with the Samoa Victim Support Group or as otherwise directed by the Probation Service; attend and complete not less than a six-week alcohol and drug program and other programs as directed by the probation service; is prohibited from consuming any alcohol or illegal drugs whilst under supervision; and is to have no contact with Amosa whilst under supervision.

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