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‘Partners in crime’ win curfew lift

Wednesday October 18, 2017 Written by Published in Crime

A couple facing a joint charge of burglary had their curfew lifted when they appeared in the Avarua High Court before Justice of the Peace Georgina Williams last week.

 

Jon Taupupu Rio and Petrena Tiatoa appeared alongside their defence counsel, Norman George on multiple dishonesty charges.

Rio was charged with two counts of breaching his probation and one count of burglary, while Tiatoa was facing a joint charge of burglary with her partner Rio.

George asked that the pair stand together in the box as he noted they would be tried together.

The defence lawyer joked that they were “partners in crime”.

However, all jokes were put aside when George admitted they faced serious charges, which carried a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

The pair pleaded all charges, and they elected to be tried by three Justice of the Peace.

George also told the court both his clients were on curfew. The bail requirements were interfering with their personal life and straining their current living situations.

 “I have been told that the curfew requirement that has been placed on them is disturbing the relatives they live with and I would like to ask that that curfew be lifted, because it is absolutely unnecessary,” George said.

“They are not the first people to complain about police disruptions in the middle of the night. Police turn up, motors running, revving their engine, lights flashing everywhere, poking torch lights inside bedrooms – it is undoubtable disturbing and disruptive for everyone in the house.” 

Police Prosecutor Senior Sergeant Fairoa Tararo said police strongly opposed the application. The pair had a history of offending, and were already on probation for previous dishonesty charges.

“We ask that they remain on curfew, noting that they have a history of dishonesty. They were on 24 months’ probation previously and were lucky to get off a prison sentence,” Tararo added.

“Your honour these submissions are without foundation. This is like imposing a sentence before a trial,” George countered.

“Whatever happened to all defendants (being) presumed innocent until proven guilty?

“There are no restrictions in place regarding the number of times and the hour of night or morning that the police will turn up and if they are still expected to go to the door whenever the police arrive it wakes the household up.

“One has to look at the reality of the situation. The burglary charges they are facing will be vigorously defended and I would say the chance of success will be 99 per cent,” George said.

“I would suggest that this is a futile prosecution, doomed to fail and this is a penalty to punish these two because of their previous involvement with the law,” he added.

“I suggest that the police grant people their freedom to live peacefully, subject to our principles of law that a man and a women are presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

“I would also suggest to you that the requirement for a curfew is unjustified.”

Tararo told the court the defendants had been known to breach their probation and suggested it was important to note this.

However, George said he had been instructed that the mama the pair were living with had threatened to boot them out if the police continued to call, meaning they would be homeless.

“I hope the police will find luxury accommodation somewhere, without paying rent – because they are threatened with being evicted.”

After learning a hearing could not be scheduled till early next year, Williams ruled that the pair’s curfew should be lifted due to the long wait till a hearing before three Justices of the Peace.

She warned Rio and Tiatoa that if there was any sign of them being in contempt of court, the curfew would be reinstated.

“I am giving you this chance, so it is up to you two to work together and stay out of trouble,”

The matter was adjourned and a call over set for December 14.