The court heard that on October 9 of this year, the defendant was parked in a resort car park on Rarotonga waiting to pick up his partner.
The victim was on her bike to go home, when the defendant approached her from behind and placed his right hand on her private parts.
Crown Laws Prosecution lawyer Talissa Koteka said “The victim was depressed, traumatized and feared for her safety when she saw the offender.”
Koteka said the sentencing for one charge of indecent assault carries a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.
Koteka said the victim had immediately left the scene on her bike after the incident, which had threatened the victim’s sense of security in an environment where there was a lot of tourist accommodation.
The defendant had previous convictions resulting from burglary charges and the aggravating factors included the fact that his probation report showed the offender had a history of attempted rape and indecent assault, Koteka added.
He was now serving a period of probation after being sentenced on a burglary charge. The probation period was scheduled to end on March 21 next year.
Taking into account the defendant’s early guilty plea, Koteka suggested a sentence of approximately 18 months’ imprisonment would be appropriate.
Defence lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen said the defendant was no stranger to the law due to his extensive criminal record.
He said in 1981 the defendant had been charged for burglary committed on Aitutaki and in 1991 he had been charged for attempted rape and sentenced to two years’ probation. In the same year he had been imprisoned after being sentenced on a charge of indecent assault.
In 2004 the defendant had been charged once again with indecent assault and had served a prison sentence.
In mitigation Rasmussen said the victim of the car park incident had not been injured and the actual touching had not been prolonged. The victim had driven away immediately.
He said the defendant was remorseful, had recently got married and had entered an early guilty plea.
Rasmussen asked the court for a non-custodial sentence such as probation rather than a jail sentence.
Justice Grice said the defendant had immediately admitted to the offence when questioned by the police. The victim had stated in a report that she had been disturbed by the incident and was moving on so she might be able to forget what had happened.
“The sentence which I impose should reflect that your offence is held accountable and promotes a sense of responsibility because of the tourism environment and the community at large,” Justice Grice said.
She said the offence had happened in the open car park of a tourist resort and it had been dark at the time. Luckily, the victim had been able to ride away on her bike.
“The court must take into account your previous conviction history,” she added.
Grice said given the circumstances and because the defendant was a previous offender, she had started off his sentence with a period of 12 months’ imprisonment.
“But considering the mitigating factors such as the early guilty plea, (and that) you expressed remorse and remarried, I have no option but to sentence you accordingly to eight months’ imprisonment.”