60-year-old rapist jailed for nine years
A 60-year-old man convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl has been jailed for nine years by the Supreme Court with the presiding Justice saying the sentence should serve as a deterrence.
Supreme Court Justice, Tologata Tafaoimalo Tuala-Warren, said the sentence is partly designed to deter perpetrators from continuing to prey on the nation’s children.
She also ordered the permanent suppression and prohibition of the publication of the name of the victim.
However, the suppression order does not cover the defendant Saleutogi Suaia Musuai Augai, who is also known as Taualoaia Tony Musuai of Foga’a Faleula and Iva.
According to a Police summary of facts, the victim’s maternal grandmother is married to the defendant and they lived together. The incident occurred between 17 April 2019 and 30 April 2019, where he raped a young female relative.
“The victim then screamed which alerted her aunty who was outside. The defendant pretended to be asleep in the victim’s mosquito net. The aunty left to get other relatives but when they returned they only found the victim crying. The defendant had left,” the Police told the court.
Justice Tologata said the defendant is now 61 years of age.
“He left Iva to return to Faleula when the family chiefs ordered that he leave after the offending. He has 10 children with his wife, eight are his biological children,” the Judge said in her sentencing remarks.
“He also has grandchildren. He tends to the plantation to support his family.”
The defendant’s wife and biological daughter wrote to the court, saying that they and all his children have forgiven the defendant, that the matter has been reconciled within their family, and he is a good man who is the head of their family.
The victim also wrote saying that the matter has been reconciled and the defendant is a loving father who looks after and prioritises his children and his family.
A family chief, church leader and village mayor all wrote in support of the defendant.
“They all said his service to his family, church and village was outstanding. They say he is hardworking and honest,” the court heard.
The defendant expressed remorse and was apologetic, adding he has apologised to his wife and the victim.
But Justice Tologata said there had been a gross breach of trust by the defendant.
“The [...] familial relationship is a significant aggravating factor,” she said.
“I find that there was some premeditation in the offending. It occurred at night when she was asleep and alone.
“There is a significant age gap between the victim, 16 and the defendant, 60 at the time of the offending.
“He did not just rape her, he also after raping her further violated her by touching her inappropriately.”
Justice Tologata emphasised that deterrence will be a paramount consideration in the sentencing that she handed down.
“The rape of a young girl is unacceptable and inexcusable, particularly so in a family situation where a child should rightly have an expectation that she or he is safe and protected by the adults in the family,” she said.
“There is a significant need for deterrence, to deter the offender and to deter other like-minded people. This behaviour needs to be expunged for the sake of this country’s children. Today the court will play its role in purging our county of this deplorable behaviour.
“There is also a need to hold the defendant accountable for the harm done to the victim, to promote in him a sense of responsibility for and an acknowledgement of that harm, and to provide for the interests of the victim.
“The effects of this offending on the victim will no doubt last a lifetime. This sentence says that the victim is important and her interests are considered important.”
Justice Tologata put down 16 years as the starting point for the sentence, however, two years were deducted for the perpetrator’s previous good character.
Another 18 months was reduced for his apology and reconciliation with the victim which the Justice said indicated his genuine remorse; and 38 months for his belated guilty plea.
“This leaves nine years and four months. I deduct four months for compassionate reasons, [because the man] lost his wife last week,” ruled Justice Tologata.
“Time spent in custody will be deducted. The defendant is convicted of rape and sentenced to nine years imprisonment.”