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Wednesday 24 April 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National


Assault case adjourned, JP warns on witness contact

A diversion could be considered for an assault on a female case where the accused is currently employed in Australia.

However, Justice of the Peace John Whitta on Thursday, April 18, warned both parties from discussing the matter and interfering with the witness who is also the victim.

Defense counsel Mark Short said his client Tekorona Ariki Tekorona, who was supposed to be in court on the day, was still in Australia due to work.

JP Whitta said he would be forfeiting the bond that was in place for the defendant when he left for Australia. This was his second non-appearance.

Short, seeking the court’s indulgence, said the defendant would have been here if he had not lost his job and had recently found a new one.

He also said the victim has asked police for a diversion in the case.

JP Whitta warned that meetings between the victim and the defendant should not be happening.

He explained that since the victim laid a complaint, she had become a witness and she and the family cannot meet with the defendant. Court of Appeal had already warned of any such meetings, he said.

JP Whitta said the defendant was expected to be in court on the day to enter a plea.

Short said he discouraged meetings happening without his knowledge. However, he believes that as part of justice, it’s always best for Cook Islands families to reconcile. He pointed out that Cook Islanders often come together in churches, rugby fields, and emphasised that the Cook Islands is different from New Zealand in this regard.

“We always apologise,” Short said.

However, JP Whitta reiterated the fact that the charge was already being laid and the matter had to go through the proper process.

JP Whitta said he did agree Cook Islands is a small community.

He adjourned the matter to June 27 whereby the defendant is expected to attend.

JP Whitta said the bond would not be forfeited.

Meanwhile, in another matter, three young men appeared at the Criminal Court in Avarua on Thursday last week for breaching their probation orders.

They appeared before Justice of the Peace John Whitta.

The three were accused of failing to attend a workshop organised by Probation Services on April 16.

Johnny Hoeflich and Richard Tuaputa denied the facts of the charge.

However, Tikaroa Marsters pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $30 fine for his early guilty plea and $50 for court costs.

Hoeflich and Tuaputa’s case has been adjourned to today for a call over.