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75-year-old jailed for raping minor

A 75-year-old step-father has been jailed for over seven years, for raping his de-facto partner’s 13-year-old daughter, last year.

The seven years and five-months sentence was delivered by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke on Wednesday. The defendant previously had a clean record prior to pleading guilty to the charge of raping his step-daughter in September 2019.

According to the summary of facts tendered during the proceedings, the victim of the offending was told by her mother and step-father to stay and look after the defendant while her mother returned to Aleisa. 

That was when the offending took place with the victim telling her mother of the incident the next day which was then reported to the Police. 

Justice Clarke told the defendant during the hearing that the victim was a 13-year-old child at the time of the offending.

“She had stayed behind with you as children often do to help older family members,” he said. “She was entrusted to you by her mother to protect and care for her. You yourself told the Probation Service that you shared with the victim, a strong father and daughter like bond. 

“You have destroyed that bond and broke every ounce of trust placed in you.”

Justice Clarke said that there was no doubt the victim was scared, in pain and confused.

“Words cannot sufficiently condemn your actions,” he added. 

“Your rape of your 13-year-old step-daughter will sadly now define the life that you have led. Regrettably, it will also be defining of her life. She speaks of the sadness and impact that your offending has had on her life.”

Furthermore, Justice Clarke said, “she also speaks of the break-up in her relationship with her mother, weighing heavily on her”. 

“Like too many of these types of cases within the family, it is the child victim that is removed or ostracized and the perpetrator that is welcomed back and forgiven. 

“That is wrong and sends all the wrong messages.”

The victim is now under the care of the Samoa Victim Support Group [S.V.S.G.].

In his submission to the court, the defendant’s lawyer, Alex Su’a, asked that a non-custodial sentence be considered as his client’s defacto partner should be partly blamed for the offending. 

He argued that it was the mother of the victim who left her with the defendant. 

But Justice Clarke disagreed and said that only the defendant is to blame for his offending and the predicament that he finds himself in. 

“Such a submission is entirely misplaced,” he said. “Of course children are to be left with male family members and they are left with male family members every day in this country. 

“It is the role of that family member to protect and care for those children from harm, not to be the perpetrators of sexual offending against them.

“That is why as I have said, your offending was a gross breach of the trust placed in you.”

On the defence lawyer’s submission for a non-custodial sentence, Justice Clarke said there is no basis – based on the material before the court – to consider such a sentence. 

“To impose a non-custodial simply because of older age and the health ailments that tend to afflict older members of the community would give older members of our community a license to commit a very serious crime and escape appropriate punishment,” he said. 

He added that there is no other sentence for the defendant’s offending other than imprisonment.

The prosecutor and the Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Fuifui Ioane, had asked the court for 18 years as the starting point for the length of the defendant's imprisonment.

However, Justice Clarke took 14 years imprisonment as the starting point for the sentence and deducted time for the prior good character of the accused, his elderly age, remorse and reconciliation within the family, and penalty imposed by the village. 

The defendant was then sentenced to serve seven years and five months imprisonment less time remanded in custody. 

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