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Visitors to island face EBA charges

Monday January 15, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Three visitors had an unscheduled visit to the Avarua High Court this week. 18011223 Three visitors had an unscheduled visit to the Avarua High Court this week. 18011223

Three visitors to Rarotonga faced excess breath alcohol charges when they appeared in the Avarua High Court on Thursday.


Hannah Manuel was stopped while driving on the evening of January 6 and found to have 660 micrograms of excess breath alcohol.

It was her first court appearance and police prosecutor Fairoa Tararo recommended the mandatory sentence. Manuel was advised to seek legal counsel but instead entered a guilty plea instead.

Justice of the Peace John Whitta convicted and charged her $350 and $50 court costs. Manuel’s Cook Islands licence was disqualified for 12 months and she was told she was not to renew a licence within that time and to surrender her current licence that day.

Another visitor, Papa Tangimetua Tomokino, was found to have 410 micrograms of excess breath alcohol and also entered a guilty plea. She was charged $200 plus $50 court costs and was also instructed to surrender her licence to the court. She was disqualified from using her Cook Islands drivers licence for 12 months.

Australian Mark Parsons entered a guilty plea to a charge of driving with excess breath alcohol and was charged $250 and $50 court costs. His license was confiscated and he was not to reapply for a Cook Islands licence for 12 months.

Netani Cataki chose to enter no plea to his excess breath alcohol charge, giving him time to find a lawyer. The case was adjourned to February 8.

Ellis Solomona appeared on charges of assaulting a police officer and resisting police charges. His case was adjourned until February 8 without plea, as defence lawyer Mark Short had only just received instructions to defend him that morning.

Damain Mendes appeared on three charges including wilful damage, resisting police and assault on a police officer. He entered a guilty plea to the first two offences. Defence lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen said he was still looking into the facts regarding the third charge and asked for that charge be adjourned to a later date. JP Whitta said he preferred if all matters were dealt with at the same time to keep it “tidier”.

The case was temporarily stood down so that the defendant could consult with Rasmussen to decide how to proceed. After consultation, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting a police officer. A probation report was requested.

JP Whitta said there were two complicating factors relating to the case, the first being that he has a conflict of interest with the case and the second that the defendant resides in New Zealand.

Tararo requested an amendment be made to the wilful damage charge as it had been originally thought the damage would cost $1000 to repair. Of two quotes that had been obtained, the lowest was $240, and the amendment was made. The case was adjourned until January 18 for Mendes’ probation report to be completed, and in the meantime existing bail conditions were continued.

Sulueti Vakau pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to stop at the Parekura stop sign. Tararo said Vakau was very remorseful and had been in a hurry to get to work.

As it was her first court appearance, Tararo asked for leniency. The charge carries a maximum fine of $500 and he asked that the fine not exceed $100 in this case.

Vakau was charged $75 and $50 court costs.

Tepatua Crummer pleaded guilty to a charge of being party to an offence. He will remain on probation and his case was adjourned until January 30 for a three Justice of the Peace sentencing.

Daniel Akama appeared on a charge of breaching of his parole conditions. Police said he had breached his curfew and was found abroad between the hours of 7pm and 7am. He entered a guilty plea and was ordered to return into custodial care and to serve the remaining two months of his sentence on Aitutaki.

Tarapi Samuel was remanded back into custody for two weeks, as his release “may be a public concern”, said Tararo. This would allow police time to investigate the burglary charge further and give the victims time to “get back on their feet”.

Samuel’s case was adjourned until January 25.

No plea was entered by Towea Highland who faced a charge of driving while disqualified. His case was adjourned until January 25 and he was required to continue with his probation conditions of reporting weekly to police, not to drink alcohol or not to visit any bars.

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