A man whose assault on a female was described as “callous and cruel” was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, and 12 months’ probation in the Avarua High Court last week.
Marcus Anderson, 39, chose to represent himself despite being offered counsel by lawyer Mark Short.
Police prosecutor Fairoa Tararo told the court that on April 14, of this year, an altercation occurred between Anderson and his wife.
It was revealed that the defendant and his wife had been at Heidi’s bar earlier in the evening and upon returning home, the defendant demanded they keep drinking.
The court heard that Anderson’s wife declined, saying he had had enough to drink, later suggesting he go to sleep instead.
It was then that the defendant slapped the victim across the face, where she fell to the ground. The defendant then picked the victim up by the head, and tilting her head upwards, sprayed air freshener in her eyes.
Anderson then told the victim to go to bed, later leaving the property to get more alcohol, the court was told.
“Upon returning, the defendant woke the victim up and asked her to get him some smokes. The victim then went next door and called the police,” Tararo said.
Police found Anderson had locked himself inside the house. The victim climbed through the window and opened the back door to let the police in.
Officers who arrested Anderson alleged he was under the influence of alcohol and was extremely uncooperative.
“On the way to the police station the defendant punched the back of the constable’s seat, later punching the back window of the police car five times,” Tararo said.
The victim had sustained injuries as a result of her ordeal, he added.
“She had cuts and bruises on her face, and her eyes were red and swollen due to the spray.
“Domestic violence is a serious issue in the Cook Islands and the court must denounce and deter anyone from inflicting this kind of hurt on anyone else.”
Anderson repeated he would represent himself, reading from a list he had written during a previous court appearance on May 25. He told the court the newlyweds’ relationship had suffered following the loss of his job in October last year.
“This had an impact on my mental being and general morale, I guess I was on a bit of a downer from there.”
He said the offence would be the one and only assault on the victim, and that since the ordeal, the pair had been doing “pretty good”.
He said a custodial sentence would jeopardise any future employment.
Following a 15-minute recess to allow Justice of the Peace John Whitta to consider the oral submissions, the JP made his decision.
Outlining Anderson’s criminal history, Whitta said Anderson had two previous charges for similar offences. The first had taken place in 2014 and had resulted in 12 months’ probation and six months’ community service.
The second, in March of 2015, had resulted in 12 months’ probation with conditions
“Then in September of 2015, you were charged on three counts of breaching your probation conditions. The charge today makes three charges of the same offence in just three years,” said Whitta.
Probation Services had requested 18 months’ probation for Anderson with community service and conditions attached, while the police wanted a short prison term, followed by probation for the most recent offence, he added.
“In reaching a decision I cannot look past your recent and regular charges of assaulting a female.
“Three assaults of the same nature in just three years means to this court, that to continue the previous path of sentencing is pointless.
“In addition to this more recent charge, the spraying of fragrance into your partner’s eyes was to me, callous and cruel.
“The fact that your partner is prepared to still try make the relationship work is a credit to her and is something in your favour.
“I do not feel that your opportunities for work, potential or otherwise, can be taken into account in this instance. These opportunities must be weighed against the seriousness of the offence and the courts responsibility to impose a sentence that fulfils its obligation to the community.
“I therefore have little option but to impose a custodial sentence,” Whitta said.
Anderson was sentenced to two months in prison, followed by 12 months’ probation with stringent conditions.
“There comes a point where the court is left with little option,” Whitta said.