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Six dishonesty cases dealt with

Monday May 11, 2015 Written by Published in Crime

Six dishonesty cases were brought before Justice of the Peace Carmen Temata on May 7, in the High Court at Avarua.

James Ngatokoroa, Apera Ngatokoroa and Punua Fariu all appeared on charges of burglary. James Ngatokoroa at the last minute obtained defence counsel Mark Short for representation. Due to the newness of the case, counsel Short sought an adjournment until June 4 to give him time to review the case. 

Apera Ngatokoroa through counsel entered a plea of guilty to his burglary charge. A sentencing date has been set for June 19 before a three JP sitting. 

Punua Fariu entered a plea of guilty to his charge of burglary. By declining the option for legal counsel, Fariu will appear for sentencing before a three JP sitting on June 19.

Otea Taripo appeared on a charge of theft. Defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen sought an adjournment as he is still awaiting disclosure documents from prosecution. Without entering a plea, Taripo will return to court on June 4. 

Vaikaloa Taufahema while in custody appeared before the court for a charge of receiving stolen goods. A not guilty plea was entered and an application was made for bail.

Senior Police Prosecutor Fairoa Tararo objected to the bail application on the grounds that he is a high risk offender in the community, there is a likely hood he would reoffend, this is not his first time appearing for this type of offence and police are currently looking into laying further charges. Defence Counsel Mason stressed to the court the fact that this charge is the aftermath of a three year old case.

 Taufahema was the receiver of an item three months ago, and unfortunately was not aware that it had been stolen three years ago. Counsel Mason also stressed his frustration with the fact that Taufahema was unjustly detained in custody for a week without solid reasoning by the police and for that missed out an opportunity for employment. JP Temata concurred with Counsel Mason and granted bail with conditions of curfew, residence and non association factors. An objection was made by Counsel Mason regarding the curfew condition, as the relevance of this condition did not fit the crime, “how does receiving an item affect the community,” says Mason. However valid the objection, the request was declined.

Maria Mataiti while in custody appeared on her new charge of entering with intent. Through her defence counsel Mark Short, she entered a plea of guilty to the charge. Mataiti will appear for sentencing on June 19 before a three JP sitting.

ASSAULT CASES

Tute Monga, Joseph Cummings, Teina Tekoronga, Katarina Marama, Mahutaariki Adamu, Totoa Tuaia, Jeffery Magele and Natasha Iro all appeared on assault charges before Justice of the Peace Carmen Temata in the High Court on May 7, 2015.

Monga and Cummings were charged for assaulting a female. With Monga’s defence counsel currently off the island, the court granted an adjournment to May 28, to allow him time to meet with his counsel upon his return to discuss his case. Cummings entered a plea of not guilty to his charge and opted to represent himself. Cumming’s defendant hearing is scheduled for June 4.

Tekoronga appeared on his charge of assaulting a child. Without entering a plea, defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen sought an adjournment until June 4 to allow them time to review the case as disclosure was only received a few days ago which showed a few irregularities in the case’s list of events which he will need to clarify.

Marama was convicted and sentenced to a six month suspended sentence for a charge of common assault after being declined the possibility of the diversion scheme. On January 10, 2015 an incident of domestic violence was reported to the police station at approximately 9.07am.

 The victim (being her partner) came home from picking up a wire, when she smashed a bottle of steinlager across the side of his head and then after throwing a rock at him. The victim sustained a cut and was seen by a medical examiner. Defence counsel Mark Short presented in his submissions a letter from the victim seeking leave of the court to withdraw the charges as he acknowledged aggravating her to the point of violence. He also shared how his past actions have landed him in Marama’s position before and therefore knows what it is like and does not want her to go down the same road.

 JP Temata took on board all factors of the case and was satisfied of her ruling.

Adamu was convicted and sentenced to a six month suspended sentence for a charge of common assault after being declined the possibility of the diversion scheme. Defence Counsel Short through his submissions explained the relation and outcome of this case to that of his co-offender Riki Adamu Kairua back in late March. All face factors were seriously considered when JP Temata made her final ruling.

Totoa Tuaia and Jeffery Magele were discharged without conviction after entering pleas of guilty through their defence counsel Brian Mason to charges of fighting in public. Through prosecution and counsel submissions, it was evident that the two defendants did not start the fight, however when offering assistance to stop one, they too ended up in the cross fire which lead them to fight back. Counsel Mason expressed the good credibility the two defendants have in the community and the fact that this was both their first time in court. JP Temata after reaching her ruling, made it clear to the defendants that this type of behaviour is not acceptable, however concurs that they were not the cause of the initial altercation. She advises them to go and live a good life and next time, just walk away.

Natasha Iro appeared on call over for her charge of injuring with intent. Defence Counsel Wilkie Rasmussen sought a further adjournment until July 2, as there have been positive developments between the defendant and victim, and to allow time for a medical report to be furnished on Iro’s condition.

TRAFFIC CASES

Seven cases of traffic related charges were presented before Justice Carmen Temata in the High Court on May 7, 2015.

Lala Ueseli, Miimetua Akaroa, Sepataio Nicholas, Ngametua Rani and Parker Daniels all faced charges of exceeding the legal limit of alcohol found in ones breath while driving a motor vehicle. 

Ueseli through his defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen sought an adjournment until June 4 as his current work load has not allowed him sufficient time to review the case. 

Akaroa was convicted and fined $500 plus $30 court costs plus $150 medical costs. He was also disqualified for holding a drivers licence for a period of 12 months. With no prior convictions of this nature, Akaroa was however found with 238mg of alcohol in his blood which pushed him triple the amount over the legal limit. 

Nicholas was convicted and fined $450 plus $30 court costs with a disqualification for holding a drivers licence for a period of 12 months. Defence counsel Mark Short through his submissions explained that had he been in court when his client first appeared and entered his plea of guilty, a strong push towards a not guilty plea would have been warranted as his facts showed Nicholas drinking at the Social Centre and not actually driving a motor vehicle. Nonetheless, Nicholas just wanted the case to be done so he can move on with his life, therefore accepted the consequences humbly. 

Rani through counsel Short sought an adjournment until June 4 to allow time to review the disclosure documents. 

Daniels was convicted and fined $500 plus $30 court costs with a disqualification for holding a drivers licence for a period of 12 months after being caught with 1200mg of alcohol in his breath.

John Trego entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of failing to undergo a breath test. Due to non representation, the court advised Trego to seek legal counsel which he accepted. Trego will reappear on May 28 for call over. 

Keith Baxter was convicted and fined $100 plus $30 court costs for a charge of driving while disqualified. 

OTHER CASES

Vina and David Reuther were called before the High Court on May 7, 2015 before Justice of the Peace Carmen Temata for charges of failing to account. Prosecuting Counsel Brian Mason sought leave of the court to have the charges withdrawn on the basis that disclosure of financial information has now been resolved and consequently the informant is satisfied the matter has been dealt with and nothing will now be achieved by pursing the charges simply because information was not disclosed in a timely manner. Therefore, charges were withdrawn and case dismissed without convictions.

Kaveao Mathew Kaveao pleaded guilty to two new charges of contempt of court. A sentencing date has set for August 25, where he will face the outcome of not just these new charges but his previous guilty charge of burglary.

Evelyn Henry and Apakuki Tolevu were both granted a partial driving licence for work purposes only after successfully completing six months of their 12 month licence disqualification term. 

Tere Mare unfortunately was denied the application for partial driving licence, however due to special circumstances an adjournment until May 14 has been set to allow Mare to return with counsel to seek a possible way forward.

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