Nooroa Henry appeared before Justices of the Peace Tangi Taoro, Mata Nooroa and Bernice Manarangi on Wednesday, facing a charge of theft.
The mother and wife was described by defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen as a hard-working member of the community who had simply made a” drunken mistake.”
The court heard that Henry was socialising with friends and already had “a bit to drink” when she was told to steal some plants from a greenhouse.
Henry, in a drunken state, complied and stole several pot plants, Rasmussen said.
Wilkie asked the JPs to consider leniency, due to the minor level of the offence.
“This is one defendant who I believe deserves the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
An emotional Henry apologised to the court and admitted she had been wrong to take the plants.
Sentencing Henry, JP Taoro thanked her for apologising.
“I know it can be quite difficult to apologise, so good on you,” she said.
After a brief discussion with her fellow JPs, Taoro told the nervous defendant she would be convicted and called upon for sentencing within six months, if she offended again.
A grateful Henry thanked Taoro and promised she would not reoffend.
Henry was also ordered to pay $50 court costs.
It was a similar outcome for Teremoana Okotai who appeared without legal representation on a charge of theft.
Without legal counsel, Okotai addressed the JP panel, apologising for her behaviour.
“I know what I did was wrong and I am so sorry,” she said.
Taoro noted that the defendant was making her first appearance in the Avarua High Court, and told her that it should be her last.
Based on mitigating factors, Okotai was convicted and granted a suspended sentence under section 113 of the Criminals Procedures Act.
She was reminded that if she was to reoffend, she would appear before the court on both the new charge and her previous charge – and the sentence would reflect this.
Okotai was also ordered to pay $50 court costs.