Police staff face theft charges

Saturday 10 October 2020 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Crime


Four Cook Islands Police staff who were suspended pending investigation have been charged with financial misconduct.

Suspended staff members from the Administrative Finance Division of the Cook Islands Police Service appeared in the High Court on allegations of financial misconduct this week.

Tuaakana Miria, Ella Napara and Daniel Thompson are facing charges of conspiring to defraud the Cook Islands Police by stealing.

The fourth suspended staff member, Ngariki Thompson appeared on a charge of theft.

All four appeared before Justice of the Peace John Whitta and they have not entered any plea.

They were granted bail.

The Police Service earlier last month suspended staff for alleged financial misconduct.

The Finance and Administration division was stood down by Police Commissioner Maara Tetava while the investigation proceeded.

One of the suspended staff members had submitted their resignation and Tetava accepted.

Defence counsel Norman George represented the accused Tuakana Miria, Daniel Thompson and Ngariki Thompson.

George asked why police prosecution had proposed bail conditions for his clients not to leave Rarotonga without the approval of the court.

Police prosecutor senior sergeant Tuaine Manavaroa revealed that investigations into the case also included the outer islands.

JP Whitta explained there was a case already before the court where a defendant has gone to an outer island and not returned.

He said those who went to the Pa Enua could not come back in time for their case.

Defence counsel Mark Short represented accused Ella Napara.

Short made submissions opposing conditions of reporting to police. Police agreed to drop that condition.

He further made submissions requesting a list of witnesses so his client would know who the witnesses are, ensuring she does not breach the bail condition of not interfering with any witnesses.

Sergeant Manavaroa said a list of the witnesses would be provided with the disclosures.

JP Whitta said: “It is agreed that a list of potential witnesses should be forwarded to defence counsel as soon as possible as disclosures are assembled.”

He said any new witnesses are also to be advised on the list.

Meanwhile, defence counsel Norman George requested interim name suppression on the grounds of no previous offence.

However, JP Whitta said there were principles to follow with interim name suppression conditions.

Lawyer Mark Short did not ask for interim name suppression but asked the court to consider the fact that there were no disclosures and the accused were just charged.

He asked that the defendant be given time to advise their family first.

While interim name suppression until the next hearing was not granted, JP Whitta did allow 48 hours time for the defendants to inform their families.

The defendants were ordered to surrender their passports to the court, not to leave Rarotonga without the approval of the High Court and not to communicate with any of the police witnesses whether verbally or electronically.