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Defendant denies supplying cannabis,

Friday 8 December 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National


Defendant denies supplying cannabis,

A jury of nine women and two men will decide if an Aitutaki man is guilty of supplying cannabis following a two-day trial on Rarotonga.

Justice Christine Grice is due to give a summary before the jury retires at the High Court in Avarua today.

Oceania Mataiti is charged with supplying cannabis on Aitutaki between January 1, 2021 and February 8, 2022.

Yesterday, Mataiti took the stand where he was questioned by his lawyer Norman George and Crown prosecutor Jamie Crawford.

The court had earlier heard from a Crown witness and the police officer in charge of the case on Wednesday.

The defendant, assisted by a translator, spoke in Maori and told the court he entertained friends at his Aitutaki home, providing them with food while they brought their own beer, cigarettes, and cannabis.

The left the cannabis at his home, he said, when questioned by George

He denied offering anyone cannabis and said it was the witness’s friends who supplied the cannabis. He had never purchased, grown or sold cannabis, and had never supplied cannabis to anyone, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor Crawford questioned Mataiti about three people he had mentioned who had supplied cannabis.

Again, he said he didn’t get the cannabis, it was his friends who obtained it.

He said he didn’t tell them where to get the cannabis, they asked him, and he told them.

The court heard he was aged 33 at the time of his arrest and that some of the boys associated with him were aged as young as 13.

Mataiti said he didn’t know as they were friends of the witness.

They would just turn up at his place with beer, cigarettes and cannabis, he said.

Crawford put it to the defendant that he helped them obtain cannabis.

He said no, it was their decision to obtain cannabis.

In his closing address, George said there were no photographs or seized items presented by the prosecution.

He asked why the evidence was not sent to New Zealand for analysis.

It was a “half pie prosecution, not good enough,” he said.

“The Crown is calling my client a liar, he is not a liar.

“You should be more worried about the witness evidence, he didn’t get charged.”

He said the case was “awash” with doubt, there were several others involved who had not been charged.

“It wasn’t a single person, it was a group who bought it (cannabis) together; instead of supply, they shared.

“I call it sharing, collecting, bringing it together, but not supplying.”

Crawford, in her closing address, said George had claimed the defendant was looking after his friends, sharing cannabis with them.

The defendant was lying about his knowledge of cannabis, she said.

“He was much more experienced than he let on; he was trying to downplay his role, that it was the others who were responsible.”

Crawford said Mataiti had made an admission by saying he had brought a bowl of cannabis out of his bedroom to show the others at his residence.

The witness had no reason to lie, she said.

Crawford said the legal definition of supply was broad in giving, sharing or selling, and there was sufficient evidence that Mataiti supplied it.