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Man avoids assault penalty

Friday January 04, 2019 Written by Published in Crime

A man charged with assaulting a female was acquitted without conviction by the Cook Islands High Court in Rarotonga yesterday.


Benetio Miimetua Oti who had entered an early guilty plea without counsel, appeared before Justice of the Peace John Whitta.

The court heard that on December 29, 2018, the defendant assaulted a female.

Defence counsel Mark Short requested the court’s leniency to discharge the defendant without conviction as he could lose his employment with the Australian Defence Force.

Short read a letter to the court from the defendant where he expressed his remorse, and apologised.

He also read a letter from the victim seeking for the matter to be withdrawn as they had reconciled and were still in a relationship.

In the letter the victim stated that as a police officer, she understood that if the defendant was to be convicted he would be removed from the defence force.

Police Prosecutor sergeant Fairoa Tararo had initially opposed the defence counsel’s request.

Defence counsel Short asked for the matter to be stood down for a brief discussion with the defendant. He hoped the letter of withdrawal would be accepted as the consequences of being convicted were serious.

Short said if the defendant was to be convicted, he would need to appear before Australian Defence Force authorities and would lose his job.

Yesterday afternoon Oti appeared before JP Whitta, and Short said he had tried his best for the defendant not to lose his job.

Reading out his decision, Whitta said the defence counsel’s application for the discharge without conviction had initially been opposed by the prosecution.

He said the court had made it clear that it was not going to consider the application at that stage, and so the matter had been stood down by the two parties.

Whitta said the complainant was willing to continue her relationship with the defendant and it was reiterated that their relationship was ongoing.

He said in regards to Australian defence services principles, police had reconsidered their decision and had agreed not to oppose the application for a discharge without conviction.

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