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Recidivist offender fails in bid for freedom

Monday 29 January 2024 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National

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Recidivist offender fails in bid for freedom

A man with a lengthy list of alcohol related offending has pleaded for his freedom without success.

Teautabo Ariu, in custody, appeared in the Criminal Court on Thursday charged with breach of probationary licence – his fourth.   

The court heard he purchased alcohol on January 18.

Probation said the defendant is due to be sentenced on February 6 for a change of excess breath alcohol, and asked that he be remanded in custody.

Ariu then spoke, saying he had a house and a job, and didn’t want to lose them.

Justice of the Peace Vania Kenning said the breaches appeared to be a “regular thing”.

Probation then said it was his fourth appearance for breaching probation.   

“We have been through this time and time again,” JP Kenning said.

“We are running out of options.” 

Ariu continued to ask for leniency saying he didn’t want to lose his home.

“I understand that, but we have come back as to why we are here now,” JP Kenning said.

“Is there any other way?” Ariu asked.

“No,” JP Kenning said.

“I don’t want to lose my house and my job,” Ariu said.

“I totally understand your position but we are going around in circles,” JP Kenning said.

“Give me one more chance; I have been in custody for a week,” Ariu said.

“Can I say something?”

“No, I’m sorry,“ JP Kenning replied.

JP Kenning then said it was Ariu’s fourth breach of probation in a short time period, that he was due to appear in court on an excess breath alcohol charge on Feb 6, and that he be remanded in custody to that date.       

Ariu was convicted and sentenced to 12 months of probation on a raft of charges in May last year, when at sentencing, his lawyer Mark Short said he had been told by probation that Alcoholics Anonymous was an option, and that they had been advertising in the Cook Islands News.

Alcohol had been the main contributor to ongoing issues and Ariu had been advised to undertake help with Alcoholics Anonymous, Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro said at sentencing.

Ariu, who was already facing sentencing for a previous drink driving offence, was arrested and charged on May 8, 2023 after crashing his motorcycle and subsequently failing a breath test. 

The test set a new high for breathalysers at 2090 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The limit is 250mcg.

At the time, probation said it was Ariu’s 12th appearance before the court and asked that his conditions be amended so that he could not enter licenced premises.

Police said he had a “huge” drink driving history and he was appearing on his fifth drink driving charge.

JP Taoro said the defendant was appearing on his fifth EBA and was now facing his sixth.

He had a long criminal and traffic history dating back to 2013.