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Thursday 2 May 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National


Inmate pleads not guilty to assault at prison

An inmate accused of assaulting a fellow inmate at the Arorangi Corrective Services facility with intent to injure has pleaded not guilty.

Iorama Ngataua appeared before Chief Justice Patrick Keane who presided over the case through an audio-visual link at the High Court in Rarotonga on Friday last week.

Crown Law senior prosecutor Jamie Crawford said the alleged assault happened in prison where Ngataua assaulted a fellow inmate with the intent to injure on February 4 this year.

However, Crawford said the charges will likely be upgraded as the assault resulted in a collarbone injury.

She said the Crown would amend the file with a statement of facts for the defendant who represented himself in court.

CJ Keane adjourned the matter to May 24 for a call over for Crown to file the substitute charge.

The defendant raised a complaint to the Chief Justice, claiming that he was assaulted last year and had complained to the Ombudsman. However, CJ Keane said he could not deal with the matter then and advised the defendant to speak to a lawyer.

Ngataua is serving a 15-month sentence imposed in May last year, followed by a probation term that requires him to undergo counselling.

In 2023, he was convicted of several charges stemming from incidents between 2020 and 2022. These charges included wilful damage, threatening behaviour, making threats to kill, and assault with intent to injure.

During the sentence last year, Justice Christopher Toogood told Ngataua: “There is some hope for rehabilitation and an opportunity to do so. You need to manage your moods,” noting that Ngataua’s mental health assessment did not find him to be mentally unwell.