The defendant appeared before Chief Justice Hugh Williams yesterday and was represented by lawyer Mark Short.
The court heard that communication between the victim and the defendant occurred for about 10 months and the offence came into light when the girl was found to be pregnant.
Crown Law’s Alex Herman said under the Cook Islands Crime Act section 147/1 the maximum penalty was a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years.
She said the aggravating factors included the age of the victim - there was an age difference of 12 years - and he was advised not to see the victim, but he continued. In mitigation, Herman said the defendant appeared in court for the first time and entered an early guilty plea.
Herman reiterated that the victim was still a child and she cannot give consent to sexual intercourse because her age makes her vulnerable.
Short said the defendant was a hardworking man with lots of responsibilities, which his employers had entrusted him with.
Short said the relationship between the victim and the defendant was initiated through a text message from the victim, which later developed and went on to a sexual relationship.
He said the defendant loved the girl and wants to support her and the child; he did not want the child to grow up without a father.
In the victim’s impact statement report, she pleaded for leniency with the defendant’s sentencing and also did not want the child to grow up without a father.
In his sentencing Justice Williams said the defendant knew the girl was still in school, she lied about her age when he asked, but he was advised by a friend that she was underage and yet he insisted.
“You have had an unsettled childhood and your employer said you are a good employee with good work ethics.
“Although the girl in this matter is regarded as a victim, she does not see herself as a victim at all. She initiated the contact and wanted to court you, but the main victim is the girl’s parents.”
Justice Williams said the defendant was an older participant and he should have known better.
He gave a starting point of three-and-a-half years; and reduced it because of an early guilty plea and no previous offence. Delivering a modest reduction on the sentence, Justice Williams said: “Because the victim threw herself at you - but you should not have participated - I give a jail term of two years imprisonment.”