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Man pleads guilty to assault and carrying offensive weapon charges

Wednesday 2 March 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Court, National


Man pleads guilty to assault and carrying offensive weapon charges
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Supplied/ 21051809

A man has entered guilty pleas to carrying an offensive weapon and three counts of male assaults female in the High Court at Avarua.

Outside of court on Friday, the defendant's lawyer, Mark Short said he wanted his client discharged without conviction, which would mean his criminal record would remain unblemished.

Romani Katoa pleaded guilty to all charges he faced following an incident on August 15, 2020.

Katoa was originally charged with wounding with intent to injure but that has since been withdrawn.

The court was overseen by Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams via Zoom from New Zealand.

In court, Short asked for a probation report in preparation for sentencing.

Speaking to Cook Islands News outside of court, Short said there were multiple victims who had asked for Katoa’s charges to be withdrawn.

He said the incident occurred when young people were congregating at the boat shed next to Trader Jacks.

“He was trying to shoo them out… what he was doing was just trying to get those kids out,” Short said.

“Romani is a coach on the Olympic committee for our youth for swimming and also for canoeing and they're always having to bear the cost of repairing the damage that's being caused by these young kids.”

Short said when the young people did not leave, Katoa “grabbed a big knife and whacked one of the girls on her thigh”.

It resulted in a fight where a young man hit his head, and another received a cut trying to grab the knife.

The matter has been adjourned for a date to be set by court staff.