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Man with ‘urge to steal’ receives suspended sentence for pig theft

Friday 21 June 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National

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Man with ‘urge to steal’ receives  suspended sentence for pig theft

A 35-year-old man has been convicted and given a 12-month suspended sentence for stealing a male and female pig this year.

Andrew Sawtell, also known as Tonorio, appeared before Justices of the Peace John Whitta, Paul Turepu and Nga Mataio at the Criminal Court in Avarua on Wednesday.

Sawtell, who was represented by defence lawyer Norman George, was charged with two counts of theft, where each pig was valued at $200.

The court heard that the matter was reported to police on March 20, 2024, whereby the complainant reported that two pigs had been stolen on separate occasions between February and March.

Justice of the Peace Whitta said that the complainant had placed a post on social media in the hope of recovering his stolen pigs, and someone identified that he had bought one of the stolen pigs from Sawtell.

Sawtell was interviewed by police and admitted to the facts of the theft of the two pigs.

According to his probation report, he admitted that he sold a number pigs to the same buyer.

Defence lawyer George said he has represented his client in some past matters.

He said Sawtell, a father of seven, has had a good record of not reoffending for some time and he has learnt his lesson.

Police prosecutor senior sergeant Fairoa Tararo recommended a monetary fine and added that the defendant’s last dishonest offence was over 10 years ago.

JP Whitta said that the defendant was doing lawn, tree maintenance and odd jobs and had a difficult upbringing, leading to his criminal offending early in life.

He said that according to the probation report, Sawtell admitted to holding an almost uncontrollable urge to steal.

While the defendant’s criminal history was noted by police, JP Whitta acknowledged it had been a full 10 years or more since Sawtell’s last dishonesty offence.

He said this type of offending, “often gets a bit of a laugh at the thought that someone is stealing pigs for some reason seems funny”.

“However, it is not funny for the person whose property is stolen.”

JP Whitta noted that while the theft itself was minor, the court was concerned by Sawtell’s admissions of selling other pigs and feeling compelled to steal.

JP Whitta said they considered a monetary fine and reparations for sentencing but felt that his offending may have an economic aspect as he has seven children with associated expenses.

He explained to the defendant that if he is called upon in the next 12 months, he will be required to pay reparations of $400 for the stolen pigs, along with $50 court costs for each of the two charges.