Man jailed for unlawful sexual connection and assault

The Supreme Court has sentenced a man to five-years imprisonment for unlawful sexual connection and assault of a pregnant woman.

Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma handed down the sentence against the defendant Ichikawa Paulo last week after he was charged and later pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit sexual violation, unlawful sexual connection and actual bodily harm.

Initially the defendant denied the charges. However, after a voir dire hearing on the admissibility of his statement, the court ruled that the statement was admissible with the defendant later entering guilty pleas to all the charges.

According to the Police Summary of Facts report, the defendant attended a party at the victim’s house and during the party the defendant became intoxicated and was eventually told to leave. 

“You left [….] and returned to the victim’s house for more alcohol. [Paulo] went through the back and saw the victim sleeping on the […] with her children inside their mosquito net.”

The police report further stated that the defendant touched the victim in an inappropriate manner with the victim waking up and calling out for help.

“[Paulo then] struck her twice with a piece of metal that was inside of the mosquito net. She got up and ran to their other house where her husband was drinking with others,” read Justice Fepulea’i from the Police Summary of Facts report. 

“She was half naked and bleeding from her face. She was able to tell her husband that you were responsible before she was rushed to hospital for treatment.”

The victim, a 31-year-old mother, was pregnant at the time of the offending by the defendant.

“As to the physical impact of your offending, she says in the victim impact report that the injuries to her face were multiple and very serious and required suturing. She was hospitalised for a week.

“The injuries took months to heal and have left permanent marks. For a long time, she has also had trouble eating. 

“The attack also occurred in the late stages of the victim’s pregnancy with her child who is now over 10 months old. 

“It has had a lasting impression on the victim. It also affected her family including her children.”

The defendant has a previous conviction for burglary and theft in 2015, according to the Police Summary of Facts report, which are not related to the offences currently before the court.

“But the pre-sentence report says that you were also charged for causing grievous bodily injury in 2017 and ordered to complete the Drugs Court programme before being sentenced on 13th March 2018 to 12 months’ supervision.”

However, Justice Fepulea’i cautioned the prosecution on outdated conviction records that were submitted in the court.

“Clearly that conviction is similar to the present offending and will have an impact on your sentence,” she said. 

“Again this is another of many matters where prosecution’s record of accused’s convictions has become outdated.

“I need not remind prosecution that you have a duty to provide the court updated and accurate information. 

“If it were not for the updated record and carefully prepared report by probation, the court would have proceeded to sentence you as a first offender.”

Justice Fepulea’i said when the defendant entered the victim’s home without authority, he breached its privacy and sanctity and assaulted her sexually and physically whilst sleeping with her children.

“This is another case of a male attacking a female sexually and physically in the sanctity of her home where she is expected to and should feel safe,” she emphasised in her ruling.

“You have a recent conviction for a violence-related offending for which you were granted the Court’s leniency in terms of a community based sentence. 

“You now appear for sentence on more serious charges. The only appropriate penalty is that of imprisonment.”

On the charge of assault with intent to commit sexual violation, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to 5 years and 3 months imprisonment. And for the unlawful sexual connection and actual bodily harm charge, the defendant is to serve a jail term of five years for each offense which are to be served concurrently.

The court also heard that the defendant's family conducted an apology and also paid a fine of $2,000 to the village council of Tuasivi where the defendant is from.

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