Prosecution seeks 18-year jail term for 75-year-old

The prosecution has asked the Supreme Court to sentence a 75-year-old elderly man to 18 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to one count of rape against his 13-year-old stepdaughter. 

The defendant, whose name was suppressed together with the victim, appeared in the Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon for sentencing.

He was represented by defense lawyer Alex Su’a who argued that his client should serve a non-custodial sentence through community service.

According to a summary of facts, the 75-year-old male of Aleisa and Vaimoso was in a de-facto relationship with the victim’s mother. They have been together for six years and were living separately. 

The Court heard that the defendant was living in a village outside of the urban area looking after his plantation while the woman resided with her children near town. 

On 20 September 2019 the victim, her mother and siblings went to visit the defendant and had agreed for the victim to stay and look after her stepfather. 

The police reported that it was when the victim had fallen asleep that the 75-year-old man raped her. The matter was reported at a police station the following day and the defendant was taken into custody by the police.

In his submission to the Court, Mr. Su’a asked that the defendant’s prior good character and his guilty plea be taken into consideration.

He also asked the Court to consider the elderly man’s age and physical condition with the less likely possibility that he will reoffend and will not harm society. 

But Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke asked whether custodial sentences should not only protect society, but be used as a deterrence for those carrying out similar offences. 

The defence lawyer asked that the Court consider the medical condition of the defendant and added the family had already done a traditional apology and paid a fine to the village council.

Making her submission for the prosecution, Ms. Ioane made reference to several cases and asked the Court to take 18 years imprisonment as a starting point for the accused. 

She also asked that the aggravated factors in terms of the impact on the victim, the offence being premeditated, and the 62-year age-gap between the victim and defendant be taken into consideration.

An 18 years imprisonment is an appropriate sentence for the elderly man, she added.

Justice Clarke then asked the prosecution lawyer for her view on the age of the defendant. 

But she replied saying that she will not comment as it is the discretion of the Court. 

Justice Clarke then reserved his decision and directed the probation service to obtain confirmation on the family carrying out a traditional apology and being fined. 

The matter has been adjourned to 19 November 2020 for sentencing. 

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