The High Court on August 29 was presided over by Justices of the Peace Bernice Manarangi and John Whitta, who made the following judgements:
Tile Tovio – 25, from Tupapa, entered a guilty plea to an excess breath alcohol charge. Tovio was stopped by police while driving along the main road in Tupapa and after it was noticed and confirmed Tovio was intoxicated. A breath test was conducted and revealed 800mg of alcohol per litre of breath.
Tovio’s lawyer Charles Petero told the court that it was the defendant’s first EBA charge and that Tovio understands the consequences of his actions. Petero made an application for a conditional licence, saying disqualification will mean Tovio will have to be fired from his job causing undue hardship. He told the court that Tovio works as the sole driver for Super Brown, and called forward Tovio’s employer Taoro Strickland-Brown. Strickland-Brown gave a positive reference and said that if Tovio were to be disqualified he will have to dismiss him and find another driver.
Justice of the Peace Bernice Manarangi disqualified Tovio from driving for 12 months, saying that the undue hardship is upon the employer not Tovio himself. Tovio was also fined $400.
Ngatamariki Katuke – 50, from Atiu, had his charge of wounding with intent replaced with a charge of common assault by the prosecution. Police prosecutor Avele Naku told the court that on August 7 Katuke had punched his nephew in the face and ear for not listening to him. He submitted that in sentencing the principles of deterrence and accountability and the victim having a mental disability be considered, and that the court should signal to the community that assault is not condoned. He recommended a sentence of 12 months’ probation with six months’ community service. Defence lawyer Norman George told the court that due to the absence of any mental health facility in the outer islands, family are forced to look after handicapped and disabled relatives. He submitted that the defendant is remorseful and will participate in tutoring and counselling by Orometua Frank Williams on Atiu. Katuke was convicted and sentenced to 12 months’ probation with the first six months community service.
Samuel Timoko – 43, from Avana, entered a plea of guilty to an excess blood alcohol charge and a careless driving charge. Timoko was picked up by police on July 18 after crashing his work truck on the main road in Matavera. A blood-alcohol test revealed 206mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Police prosecutor Avele Naku asked that $1200 reparation for damages to the truck be paid by the defendant to his previous employer the Ministry of Education. The court rejected the application as it was a matter for the civil court to deal with.
Timoko was fined $150 for the blood analysis, $30 court costs, $100 for careless driving, $500 for EBA and was disqualified from driving for 12 months.
Ariki Akamoeau – 57, from Atupa, appeared in court for an excess breath alcohol charge and entered a plea of guilty. The matter was adjourned to September 5 in order for defence to prepare a submission for a conditional licence.
William Wade – 27, from Takuvaine appeared on call-over for two burglary charges. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and has elected a defended hearing before three Justices of the Peace. The court adjourned the matter to October 29 and 30 with his bail conditions to continue.
Leroy Robinson – 27, from Takuvaine, appeared on a charge of common assault for an incident in Pue where Robinson is accused of assaulting Cecil Samatua. His defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen told the court he will be away for family business and was granted adjournment to October 3 for trial.
Pukana Piniata – 16, from Takuvaine had his case adjourned by his counsel Wilkie Rasmussen to September 3. Rasmussen told the court he needed to speak to his client before setting a date for a defended hearing for a charge of obstructing a constable.
Crystal Arona – 19, from Arorangi, appeared in court charged with theft. Police prosecutor Avele Naku told the court that Arona had stolen a carton of cigarettes and a packet of Twisties from the Black Rock store, totalling a value of $180. She had grabbed the items out of a storeroom while the shopkeeper was helping a customer at the petrol filling station. The defendant had been convicted the day before of a separate theft charge and had been sentenced to 12 months’ probation with six months of community service.
Her lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen asked if this theft case can be dismissed, saying that the items were returned and that Arona was co-operative with police. He said this was a “lesson upon a lesson” as Arona had already been dealt with by the law.
“If she were convicted the law will be acting in a cold and impersonal manner,” he said.
JP Manarangi gave Arona the benefit of the doubt and sentenced her to six months’ suspended sentence.
Timothy Pegden – 28, from New Zealand, entered a plea of guilty to an excess breath alcohol charge and asked that matters be dealt with immediately as he was only visiting Rarotonga and returning to New Zealand in a week. He was stopped by police on the main road in Nikao and took a breath test that revealed 720mg of alcohol per litre of breath. JP Whitta fined Pegden $300 plus $30 court costs and disqualified him from driving within the Cook Islands for 12 months.
Mii Matara – 57, from Arorangi, appeared for sentencing for an assault on a female charge, however had his case adjourned to September 5 in order for a probation report to be made. Defence lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen told the court that he needed a report to try and soften sentencing. He mentioned that Matara’s partner had an “assumption of authority” after moving in to his house, causing argument and tension. He said the victim had not given a medical report on any injuries she sustained. Police prosecutor Avele Naku told the court that alcohol was a factor in the assault and pressed that Matara must be made accountable and that sentencing must deter others.
The matter was adjourned and an order made for Matara to appear for an interview with a probation officer so that a probation report can be made. A second order was made for the victim to release her medical report.
Napora Benioni – 23, from Ngatangiia had his matter adjourned as his lawyer Matilda Miria-Tairea was overseas. He appeared over a charge of possession of cannabis.
Mamangaro Pareina – 26, from Arorangi, pleaded guilty to a charge of excess blood alcohol. A blood-alcohol test revealed 180mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, more than twice the limit of 80mg of alcohol. Pareina had admitted to police he had consumed four Woodstock cans of alcohol mix before driving. He was disqualified from driving and fined $580 plus court costs and medical report reparation.
Miimetua Taumaa – 31, from Matavera had just been arrested for careless driving and ordered by court to seek legal counsel. His matter was adjourned to September 19.
Matamaru Maui – 18, from Matavera had his matter adjourned to September 5 for a call-over regarding a careless driving charge.
Tau Samuel – 50, from Aroa entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of assault on a female. He was ordered to seek legal counsel and his matter was adjourned to September 12.
John Nicholas – 20, from Ruatonga, pleaded guilty to a charge of excess breath alcohol. A breath test revealed 660mg of alcohol per litre of breath. Nicholas admitted to drinking two bottles of Steinlager beer before driving. He was fined $330 including court costs and disqualified from driving for 12 months.
Christopher Kapi – 33, from Nikao, had his matter adjourned without a plea entered to September 12. He had just asked lawyer Charles Petero to represent him and police prosecutor Avele Naku did not object to the adjournment. He was charged with excess breath alcohol after a breath test revealed 1100mg of alcohol per litre of breath.
Moana George – 23, from Tupapa, entered a plea of guilty to a charge of excess breath alcohol. She appeared without legal representation and asked that the matter be dealt with immediately. Prosecution said that police had picked up George after she collided with another motorcycle when she failed to stop at a stop sign. A breath test revealed she was driving with 890mg of alcohol per litre of breath. A request for $1744 reparation for damages to one of the vehicles was made, however it was dismissed due to uncertainty over who made the application. She was fined $400 plus $30 court costs and disqualified from driving.
Upoko Nelio – 30, from Matavera was charged with an excess breath alcohol charge. Her lawyer Norman George had to deal with another matter at that time. Nelio’s case was adjourned to September 19.
Tukai Engu – 43, from Atupa had his assault on a female charge dismissed due to the victim not wanting to proceed with charges. Police prosecutor Avele Naku said he was reluctant to withdraw the charge as the victim did say she was in fear for her life when she called police to make the complaint, however he said it was up to the court to decide.
Rima Iotua – 22, from Matavera had to have his matter adjourned to September 12 as his lawyer Matilda Miria-Tairea was overseas. Court wanted all five charges of breach of probation and one of possession of a utensil to be dealt with together.
Douglas Taripo – 19, from Arorangi did not appear in court for a charge of failing to stop at a police checkpoint. A warrant was granted for his arrest.