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11 November 2022

Child bruised, bloodied in assault

Wednesday 21 February 2024 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Court, National

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Child bruised, bloodied in assault

A Rarotonga woman who repeatedly slapped a 9-year-old girl about the head as punishment for stealing has been sentenced for assaulting a child.

The victim sustained bruising, black and blood-stained eyes, slap marks, and a blood stain in her right ear at the hands of Tekura Vaevae Maurangi George after the child pinched $38 from a shop in Takuvaine, Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro said.

George, 33, was sentenced to 12 months’ probation on her guilty plea to assault on a child when she appeared before JP Taoro in the Criminal Court in Rarotonga on Tuesday.

JP Taoro said the day after the 9-year-old girl pocketed the money, George called her grandfather to summon her back to the shop and “hit the victim in the face several times with an open palm”, about 2pm on November 16, 2023.

“You viewed your actions as a form of discipline towards the victim making better decisions,” JP Taoro said.

“What happened may have gotten out of hand. The court would like to highlight the seriousness of an offence on a young child.”

George told Probation her actions were prompted by the victim’s “persistent lies”, JP Taoro said.

“There had been numerous complaints from people with missing items. You slapped the victim multiple times until she admitted stealing. You took her to apologise to people.”

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Fairoa Tararo said the victim had “recovered well” from her injuries and was settling back into normal life.

Defence lawyer Michelle Tangimama said George was “remorseful”.

Tangimama said George had no prior convictions before submitting six character reference letters in favour of the defendant, which painted her as “trustworthy” and “caring” and “a natural-born leader”.

JP Taoro said according to the letters, George’s assault on the victim was “uncharacteristic of your true nature”.

“You are an honest, reliable person who puts others first,” JP Taoro said.

“It is great to read that the young child has recovered. What saddens the court is, she doesn’t come around to your house any more. The court hopes you and the victim are able to work towards mending your relationship.”

JP Taoro said the conditions of George’s sentence were to attend counselling and workshops as directed by Probation, and not to leave the Cook Islands without approval from the High Court.

George was ordered to pay $50 in court costs.