Father fined $250 for marijuana

A 46-year-old father has been convicted and ordered to pay $250 to Court before 12:30pm today.

Tanielu Tui was charged with one count of possession of a glass pipe used to smoke marijuana, one count of bringing in a glass pipe into the country and one count of making a false statement at the Faleolo International Airport. The incident occurred on 25 December 2016.

Tui appeared before His Honour, Chief Justice, Patu Tia’va’asue Falefatu Sapolu.

Prosecution was Lealofioamoa Mamaia of the Attorney General’s Office, while the defendant was represented by Tuisa Tasi Patea.

Chief Justice Patu said the matter has been dragged for so long.

“When the matter was first called on 13 January, 2017, it was adjourned on the following week for prosecution to finalise charges and also for you to find a lawyer,” said Chief Justice Patu.

“Come the following week, you came with your lawyer, but it was again adjourned for your lawyer to obtain instructions from you.

“On 24 February, 2017, through your counsel, you entered a not guilty plea to all the charges against you and so a hearing date was set on 24 July 2017, but then it was put back to the 31 July, 2017.

“On 31 July, the hearing was further adjourned to 18 December because your lawyer was not available.

“And on 18 December, 2017, you changed your plea from not guilty to guilty. So this matter has been dragged for so long.”

According to the police summary of facts, Tui arrived at the airport from Nadi, Fiji, on 25 December, 2016, with two bags.

He came through the Customs and he told the Customs officers that there was nothing to declare.

However the Customs officers were in doubt and they took the accused to the room and searched him.

It was there that one of the Customs officers found a glass pipe mainly used for smoking narcotics. According to CJ Patu, the defendant was also in possession of narcotics.

“On 30 December, 2012, you met a guy at one of the shop at Vailele while on your way to wait for a taxi.

“You gave this guy a marijuana cigarette before you left, without knowing that this guy is a Police Officer who was not on duty.

“The guy followed you and he informed the Police about the matter. The Police arrived at your home and searched you and found another marijuana cigarette in your pocket. 

“After pleading guilty to all the charges against you, the Judge who presided over your matter referred you to the Alcohol and Drugs Court.

“However, according to reports from the Alcohol and Drugs Court, you kept changing your answers when they asked you a question.

“You also told them that you started smoking weed at the age of 16 and you took meth three times.

“You told the probation that you don’t have previous conviction, but found out that you were charged with assault in 1992 and you had three traffic offenses in 2009 in New Zealand while living there.”

CJ Patu told the defendant that he does not accept the report from his lawyer, stating that he is a person of good character.

“I don’t accept the submission from your counsel that you are a person of previous good character even though I have on me the reports from your pastor, as well as the village mayor to support you in this matter,” he said.

In reading out the aggravating features, CJ Patu considered the bringing in of this unlawful pipe into the country.

“You brought into the country a glass pipe, giving wrong testimony in the declaration form that you filled when you arrived at the Faleolo Airport in 2016,” he said.

“I will not give you a custodial sentence given that your previous conviction was long time ago and it does not relate to this matter.

“You have been convicted and you are fined $250 to be paid before 12:30 on Monday next week (today) to the Court. 

“Make sure when you travel overseas, don’t ever bring any pipe into the country because we are trying our best to decrease the number of offences regarding drugs and alcohol.” 

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