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Five months prison for Aitutaki indecent assault, other charges

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


Five months prison for Aitutaki  indecent assault, other charges
Teau Moana Tangi Taraiti. POLICE SERVICE / 23062618

A man who was convicted for 12 separate offences including indecent assault has been sentenced to five months imprisonment.

Teau Monana Tangi Taraiti was convicted of indecently assaulting a female in Aitutaki, as well as unlawfully being found, contempt of court, unlawfully taking motorcycles, careless driving, and theft in Rarotonga.

Taraiti appeared before Chief Justice Patrick Keane at the High Court in Avarua on Thursday last week where the court heard that on January 25, 2023, at 9pm he entered a family home where the victim and her family resided.

In sentencing Taraiti, CJ Keane, who appeared through an audio-visual link from New Zealand, said the victim was in the bedroom, sleeping, and her husband was watching television while their daughter was in her own bedroom.

He said the victim was wearing a pareu with her back towards the bedroom door. She woke up when she felt Taraiti, who had pushed her down. She pushed him and screamed.

CJ Keane said that two days later Taraiti admitted to the crime and was remanded in Aitutaki and taken to the Arorangi Prison in Rarotonga until April 20 where he was granted bail under curfew conditions.

He said the victim impact report described the devastating effect of assault on the victim in many aspects of her life.

“Those are offences women suffer when things like this happen,” CJ Keane said, adding that it can be long lasting.

For the Rarotonga offences, the court heard that on June 19, 2023 at 10.30pm Taraiti breached curfew and unlawfully took a motorcycle which was recovered on June 21 while he remained at large.

On June 22, he stole another motorcycle and crashed into a motorist at her driveway in Tupapa. He was then unlawfully found with a third motorcycle. After being arrested and taken to the police station, he absconded and stole yet another motorcycle.

On June 26, he was seen leaving a Matavera home and on June 27, he unlawfully entered another property and was arrested.

He had been in custody since the arrest.

Crown Law prosecutor Lucinda Rishworth in her submission said the Aitutaki victim felt violated, lost trust in others, had anxiety about trust and about leaving her own home.

In highlighting the aggravating factors, she said the defendant physically restrained the victim while he indecently assaulted her.

Defense lawyer Norman George said the now 20-year-old victim is an individual born into misfortune and bad luck as his father died when he was young and his mother remarried. He was raised by his maternal grandparents.

However, his grandfather passed away in 2019 and grandmother in 2023.

George said: “His life is surrounded by sadness and sorrow… has natural afflictions contributed to social fallouts.”

He said that contrary to the Probation Services report, Taraiti did have a psychological assessment done. This assessment showed that he has an intellectual disability and lacks the ability to care for himself independently as expected for a man his age. He requires daily and regular supervision, including help with self-care and hygiene.

George said an imprisonment term was unjustified.

“He has a tag along personality… a blind follower. He needs guidance, any form of supervision,” George said.

He said being locked up won’t help the defendant, “Prison won’t help him at all.”

George requested a probation term no longer than two years. He suggested Taraiti’s uncle, who is willing to take him in, be included in any probation services plan. 

In suggesting probation and rehabilitation, George argued that Taraiti had already served sufficient time in prison.

The defendant’s intellectual disability and the time already spent in prison was taken into account and CJ Keane sentenced him to the five month jail term and ordered 12 months’ probation supervision upon release as a way to assist him to integrate into the community.