Rutril Enoka appeared in the Avarua High Court before Justice Christine Grice, alongside his defence lawyer Norman George on Thursday November 30.
Through his counsel the defendant entered a plea of not guilty, and elected to be tried by judge and jury. He also applied for bail, an application which saw two temporary adjournments throughout the day.
The defendant, who is in his early 20s, first appeared in court on Wednesday November 15 before a three JP panel, comprising Carmen Temata, Mata Nooroa and Taepae Tuteru.
His previous lawyer, Mark Short applied to have him bailed. Short subsequently withdrew from the case, leaving George to take over representation.
On November 15, the court heard Enoka had been arrested the day before and had spent the night in police custody.
Crown Prosecutor Alison Mills told the court that due to the seriousness of the charge, and the victim’s fear for her safety, she opposed bail and asked that Enoka be remanded in custody until investigations could be completed.
The defendant appeared for the second time since his arrest on November 30, when the court heard he had allegedly assaulted a female in Ruatonga on October 28 – an assault that was said to have left the victim fearful and traumatised.
Crown Prosecutor Alison Mills told the court that the victim, who has name suppression, feared for her safety, and was anxious at the prospect of the defendant receiving bail.
Mills told Grice that Enoka had been in prison for two weeks since his arrest in early November, but asked that he be remanded in custody for a further week, until the victim left the island.
She said the defendant could not be bailed as of right, due to the nature of the offending.
George disputed the notion that the defendant was a further threat to the complainant. He highlighted the fact that Enoka had no previous convictions, and was a quiet church-goer.
He further argued that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to hold the defendant in custody any longer, Mills disputed this.
George began to highlight aspects of the case and the offending, but was quickly stopped by both Mills and Grice – who said what he was saying was irrelevant to the issue of bail.
George said the thrust of his submissions and argument was that the defendant was not violent and the public’s safety would not be at risk if he was to be bailed.
He also proposed that the defendant would be willing to stay in another village, as his normal residence was close to the victim’s home.
Mills argued that the court must take the view of victims in cases such as this.
“The fears and concerns that are expressed by the victim are very real and are justified. There is no application for long term remand, we are simply seeking that he be remanded until the complainant leaves the island in December.
“The suggestion that this wasn’t a violent rape, is void in the sense that rape is a violent offence, whatever the context,” Mills said.
She said if found guilty the defendant would inevitably face a custodial sentence.
Mills said there was a chance that the defendant could intentionally or unintentionally interfere with witnesses, due to the small size of the Cook Islands community.
Grice then noted the length of time to trial that faced all parties involved.
Mills said it would be a minimum of a year before the defendant appeared before a jury for the charge – something she understood was a concern for both parties involved.
Grice said the charge of rape was a serious offence. She said that the victim’s fears seemed to be psychological, which she believed was “just as important as anything else”.
However, she believed that the defendant had been in custody for a lengthy amount of time, and said that due to the time to trial she was inclined to bail him, on the belief that he would have to adhere to strict conditions. She then said that if any issues surrounding his bail arouse, she would be presiding in court and could address them.
Enoka was bailed, under the conditions that he is not to purchase, or consume alcohol, is not to be absent from his home between the hours of 7pm and 5am and must not go within 200 metres of the victim’s work place.
He must also have no contact with the witnesses or victim and is to report to the Cook Islands Police Service headquarters on Monday and Friday evenings.
The matter is most likely to be heard before a Justice in late 2018 or early 2019.