An expat facing a charge of indecent assault and two charges of contempt has been allowed to travel overseas.
Justice of the
Peace John Whitta suppressed all details that could identify the complainant
when the defendant appeared in the Criminal Court at Avarua on Thursday.
Mark Short said he had filed some documents and asked for the defendant’s
passport to be released so they could visit family.
Short said his
client was not a flight risk and had a multi-year contract with the
was aware of the charges and remained neutral on the matter.
Crown Law prosecutor
Lucinda Rishworth said there was
no opposition to the defendant travelling, provided there was continuation of
their employment and proof of a return airfare, in order for the passport to be
Short said he was
awaiting more information from police before reading a submission, saying the
defendant was highly qualified, and describing their role in the organisation.
Short said the
alleged offending did not fall into a serious category.
His client was
stressed as a result and would be entering a not guilty plea.
Short said running
away would destroy his client’s career and they would provide evidence of
JP Whitta asked
what would be the likely date of return, Short saying towards the end of
The matter would
be heard by the Chief Justice on February 2, 2024.
JP Whitta said the
defendant would need to be back in the Cook Islands before that date, and a
return airfare to be presented.
Cook Islands News
challenged the bid for name suppression, while Short lodged an application for
suppression, saying publishing the defendant’s name would be onerous to the
Rishworth said the
Crown did not have an issue with name suppression provided there were more
details available at the next appearance so they could ask more questions about
Islands News challenged suppression on the grounds of public interest, given
Short said naming
the defendant could jeopardise their position and it would be better for the
charges to be confirmed.
“Every person is
innocent until proven guilty,” Short said.
JP Whitta said
name suppression could be granted with consequences, it could be useful if the
immediate effect outweighed the offence.
Again, Short said
the alleged offending was on the lower scale.
JP Whitta said he
would grant name suppression until February 2, 2024.
All details that
could identify the complainant were suppressed.
The matter was
adjourned to February 2 and bail variations were put in place.
The defendant was
given leave to travel and told to return their passport to authorities on the
first working day after their arrival on Rarotonga.