Busy two weeks for visiting justice

Wednesday November 22, 2017 Written by Published in Local

Cook Islands High Court Justice Christine Grice will preside over numerous criminal and civil court cases in the Avarua High Court this month.


Over a period of two weeks from November 27, Grice will handle nine criminal sentencings, one criminal jury trial and five case call-overs.

Charges range from threatening to kill, to dangerous driving, indecent assault and sexual assault on a child under 12. Grice will also hear a number of civil cases.

Her two-week stint will open a jury trial of Clark Iona who is accused of indecent assault. The trial is expected to take four days, and will end on November 30. Iona is represented by defence lawyer Norman George.

Kimiora Manuela, who is accused of assault with intent to injure and causing grievous bodily harm, will also be tried by jury. The trial is on standby, and will start if Iona’s matter ends earlier than expected. Manuela is also represented by Norman George.

Tuesday will see Imogen Ingram sentenced on a charge of careless driving causing injury. Ingram, represented by David McNair, was involved in an accident earlier this year, which left a local man in hospital. The defendant previously pleaded not guilty, but later changed her plea to guilty.

Another criminal sentencing will be held on Wednesday, during which Ruth Tepaano, represented by Wilkie Rasmussen, will appear on a charge of careless driving causing injury. The charge has a penalty of five years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $5000.

Thursday will be judgment day for Etuate Ragolea who is representing himself, against the advice of the court. He is charged with dangerous driving causing injury.

Grice will hear multiple call overs on Friday, December 1. Hewett Napa and Ngateinakore Katu, both represented by Norman George, face joint charges including assault with intent to injure and causing grievous bodily harm.

Napa also faces a further charge of common assault.

Andy Andrew will appear on a call over involving a charge of indecent assault. The call over will ensure both defence and prosecution are ready for Andrews’ criminal trial.

Pita Monga will also appear regarding his judge-alone trial.

A call over involving Aitutaki resident Teaka Mataiti who faces a charge of cultivating cannabis will be heard by Grice later the same day.

An application for discontinuance for the Tamati Mahia case will be heard in chambers on Friday afternoon.

The second week of the High Court will start on Monday December 4 with the criminal sentencing of Benjimen Ngametua, charged with careless driving causing injury.

The following day Manatu Taumaa, represented by Charles Petero will face a charge of possession of cannabis.

On Wednesday December 5, Grice will receive an update on the Andrew Marsters case. The Palmerston man is facing nine charges of sexually assaulting multiple children under the age of 12. Marsters is represented by Norman George. The charges may result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Francois Herman faces a charge of possessing a utensil for drug use and will be sentenced on Wednesday afternoon.

Repeat offender Nooroa Junior Kakino faces one charge of threatening to kill, and will appear on Thursday represented Norman George.

Gene Maxwell, who faces two charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one breach of probation, will also appear on Thursday, December 6. The charge relates to an incident in late July which left a young man in hospital after Maxwell allegedly stabbed him.

Grice’s session will close on Friday, December 7 with the sentencing of Travel Tangianau Moeroa Tuaputa, on three charges of burglary, one of possession of cannabis and two of contempt of court. Tuaputa came to the attention of the Cook Islands community when he failed to appear in court on August 31 this year, and spent over a week evading arrest. 

Justice Grice is a past president of the New Zealand Law Society and is former chair of Radio New Zealand and Te Pou, New Zealand’s National Centre of Mental Health Research.

She was appointed the Cook Islands’ first female judge in June 2007.

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