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Balcony accused gets 2 years’ jail

Saturday March 23, 2019 Written by Published in Crime

A man who was found guilty for a charge of intent to cause grievous bodily harm was sentenced to two years and nine-months imprisonment by the Cook Islands High Court yesterday.


Ratu Savenaca Virivirisai, who also faced a guilty charge for assault on a female, appeared before Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams QC.

The court found that on April 22 Virivirisai attempted to cause grievous bodily harm by throwing the victim Etati Vero, 24, off a balcony in Nikao and also assaulted his partner Maria Narara, 34, on the same date.

On the charge of assault on a female, Chief Justice Williams said it seemed clear that the defendant and his partner have reconciled and convicted and discharged the matter.

On the charge of intent to cause grievous bodily harm, Crown Law lawyer Alex Herman in her submissions said as an aggravated matter the act was extremely violent due to the injury suffered by victim Vero.

Defence counsel Norman George said the criminal conduct was not planned but was provoked and the defendant only wanted to scare the victim but lost his grip.

George said the court should not consider a custodial sentence but instead order reparation and proposed that the defendant was willing to pay $35,000 to the victim as the defendant would not have the ability to honour such an undertaking of paying $49,000.

He said the Virivirisai had a good job and he would undertake to pay reparations as the court pleased either on a fortnight or weekly basis and if the defendant was to be repatriated to Fiji, it should be paid for by the Cook Islands government as he is a tax payer and not a tourist.

Chief Justice Williams said according to all other witnesses the defendant threw Vero off the railing.

He said the victim was taken to Rarotonga hospital and a spinal cord injury was diagnosed and he was taken to Fiji for medical treatment.

Chief Justice Williams said the episode has cost the victim a considerable amount of money where he lost wages of $6600 in total and had to pay medical and nurse allowance to escort him to Fiji and the return flight cost him $42,000.

He said Vero’s employer met the cost and the victim has been paying him back.

He said the Crown recommended imprisonment and defence counsel George urged to look at a non-custodial sentence.

Chief Justice Williams said Virivirisai needed to be held accountable for his actions and the harm done to the victim and the community at large.

He said a non-custodial sentence was inappropriate due to the considerable violence and serious injury he caused to a vulnerable victim.

Justice Williams sentenced Virivirisai to two-years and nine months’ imprisonment.

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