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Man acquitted of three charges, fined $550 for assaulting female

Thursday 21 September 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National


Man acquitted of three charges,  fined $550 for assaulting female
Okaytime Marsters outside the Ministry of Justice High Court in Avarua with his lawyer Michelle Tangimama after being acquitted of three charges. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23092007

A man facing multiple assault charges against women was found guilty on only one charge of ‘low level assault with no injury’ and fined $550.

A happy Okaytime Marsters walked out of the High Court in Avarua relieved and content with the decision made by the jury yesterday.

Marsters was also happy that the charges against him were dealt with on the same day.

After two days of trial, the prosecution and defence presented their submissions to the jury, who deliberated for over an hour and returned to the courtroom to give a not guilty verdict to the other three charges Marsters was tried on.

He was found not guilty of assault on a female for the alleged incident on February 28, 2022, in which he was accused of hitting the victim from behind. He was also found not guilty of assault on a female for the alleged incident on the same day in which he was accused of punching the victim. He was also found not guilty of assault with intent to injure.

Justice Colin Doherty sentenced Marsters to a fine of $500 and $50 in court costs for a charge of assault on a female, for which he was convicted for pushing and slapping the back of the victim’s head.

Justice Doherty said the Crown Law accepted that this was a low-level assault with no injury. He said Marsters had no previous convictions, was self-employed and they have heard about his character from witnesses.

Marsters said he was glad it was over and was happy with his lawyer Michelle Tangimama.

“I was not sure what the verdict would be,” he said.

This was also lawyer Tangimama’s first defendant hearing matter and she said: “I tried my best, gave it my all, and I am happy with the decision of the jury.”

“It is only the beginning for me and I am thankful to (lawyer) Norman George. I was not really sure how it would go; I threw everything I had in it and we basically went in not knowing the outcome.”

During the closing submissions yesterday, Crown Law prosecutor Lucinda Rishworth explained to the jury the matter that was being disputed – did the defendant assault the victim in the way she had described?

Rishworth told the jury that Marsters had accepted he pushed her from behind.

She said the victim had a black eye and that they had photos of it. However, under cross examination Marsters said he did not accept the photos and that the photos were modified.

Rishworth asked the jury to consider the photos, videos and doctor’s evidence.

Defence lawyer Tangimama in closing told the jury to make their decision based on what they saw and heard in the last two days of trial including yesterday.

She said the matter was about three people against one, claiming two sisters and a nephew had ganged up against her client. It was a matter about a “family at war with each other”, Tangimama said.

She said looking at the victim’s medical evidence, it was unreliable because at the time the doctor examined her, she failed to inform the doctor that she had had a lump for a long time. She said the doctor prescribed painkillers and did not hold the victim overnight, indicating it was not serious.

Tangimama said that the three Crown witnesses, the sisters and nephew, were unreliable due to inconsistency and claimed the matter was exaggerated.

She added there was not enough evidence to convict Marsters.

Judge Doherty told the jury before they made a decision to look at the evidence that they thought was reliable.