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Couple reconcile after husband attacks wife, wife’s car

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


Couple reconcile after husband attacks wife, wife’s car

Intoxicated and “full of anger”, a 33-year-old man struck his wife in the head and stomach before inflicting nearly $6000 worth of damage on her car in Rarotonga.

Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro said the wife of Semesa Nalalakiwai claimed in her victim impact statement that her husband threatened to kill her if he was sent to prison over the assault, but decided to rekindle the relationship as he underwent counselling and “continues to make small changes every day”.

Nalalakiwai was sentenced to 16 months’ probation, the first six months of which would be served on community service, and ordered to pay $5728.40 in reparation to his wife to repair her car when he appeared before JP Taoro in the Criminal Court in Rarotonga on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old man had pleaded guilty to wilful damage and two counts of assault on a female.

Defence lawyer Michelle Tangimama said Nalalakiwai was “fuelled by alcohol” and “full of anger” when he attacked his wife at about 9.30pm in Tupapa on June 7, 2023.

JP Taoro said Nalalakiwai punched the victim in the stomach and temple, where she sustained an injury, before causing “extensive damage” to her car.

“This has left her traumatised and the victim is struggling to move on,” JP Taoro said.

“The victim took three days’ sick leave to deal with the trauma.

“For eight weeks, she had no transport to work and had to rely on work colleagues.”

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Fairoa Tararo said the offending marked the second time Nalalakiwai had been before the court for similar charges.

Tangimama said Nalalakiwai was “very remorseful and deeply regrets the harm he has caused”.

“He takes full responsibility for his actions,” Tangimama said.

“He has changed his life to support his wife and family. He has sought help and assistance for his anger, and other issues that have occurred prior to the offence.”

Tangimama submitted character reference letters in favour of Nalalakiwai written by the victim, the defendant, his parents, and his counsellor.

She said Nalalakiwai’s parents, who lived in Fiji, were unemployed – his 60-year-old father unable to work due to diabetes – and relied on their son for money.

JP Taoro noted Nalalakiwai had been “sober for a while” and claimed he had “changed and will continue to change with the support of your wife”.

“You say you have left your old life behind and want to strengthen your marriage,” JP Taoro said.

“Your wife seeks leniency and also states that she has reconciled with you, and acknowledges what happened as a very difficult lesson for both of you.”

JP Taoro said the conditions of Nalalakiwai's sentence were not to purchase or consume alcohol, not to enter a liquor licenced premises except for his place of work, to attend counselling and workshops as directed by Probation, and not to leave the Cook Islands without approval from the High Court.

Nalalakiwai was ordered to pay $20 for a medical report and $150 for court costs.