A teenager involved in multiple burglaries on Rarotonga has been told she has narrowly avoided a prison sentence.
Eve Rahela Teeio Check
appeared for sentencing in her role of the two high-profile burglaries in which
retailers Fave Designs was targeted in early March and South Seas International
raided in early April.
Check, 18, appeared on two
charges of joint burglary before Justices of the Peace John Whitta, Nadine
Newnham and Mata Nooroa at the Ministry of Justice building in Avarua on
Check was part of a trio accused of being involved in
JP Newnham told the court that on March 13 between
11pm and 12 am, Check and the others drove from Arorangi to town where they
parked next to St Joseph’s Cathedral.
Check changed her clothes and ran across to Fave
Designs where she unsuccessfully attempted to open a door with a crowbar.
She went to another door on the premises and used
spanners to enter the property where cash, shoes and clothing were taken.
The office was ransacked where water was poured over
computers. The business was left with a bill for $8830.
On April 2 between 11pm and 12am, together with the
co-defendants, she again drove from Arorangi to town where they parked behind
the Empire Cinema.
Check put on a pair of gloves, and once the locks to
South Seas International had been removed by one of her co-defendants, she
entered the store and started filling bags with items.
A total of $29,380 in goods were reported stolen.
The court heard, at 18, she still lived with her
parents and one of the co-defendants.
She had moved to the Cook Islands when she was 14 and
left school shortly afterwards, she had a good relationship with her parents
and her mother had said she was willing to assist with reparations.
Check had said she thought the idea of committing the
burglaries was “cool” but now regretted her actions.
The likeliness of her reoffending had been deemed low
and it was her first appearance before the courts.
There had been a recommendation for 18 months of
supervision with six months of community service.
The aggravating factors included no regard, loss of
income to the businesses and the cost to replace the stolen goods.
Victim impact statements showed the burglaries had
caused the victims emotional distress.
They felt violated, and one business owner
continuously awoke at early hours of the morning to check CCTV footage.
Another had lost trust in their customers and they had
to reach into their savings following the incident.
The burglaries occurred when they were still
struggling in the aftermath of Covid-19 and there had been significant stress
leading up to the arrest of the trio.
In her defence, Check had expressed remorse and
provided several letters of support from friends and employers.
“You are intelligent, your parents ask for leniency,”
JP Newnham said.
JP Whitta said they were two very serious offences,
each with a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.
“Burglary is an invasion.”
JP Whitta said close to $40,000 of property was taken
in both burglaries.
Just over $2000 in stock still had been unrecovered
that had been reported stolen from Fave Designs, and $24,000 in reported stolen
stock from South Seas International was still unrecovered.
JP Whitta said the burglaries were highly
“You took tools, at Fave Designs you tried to enter
three times, at South Sea you took 348 items.
“The businesses have been left hurt; one of the owners
has struggled to sleep and pay bills.”
JP Whitta said Check would do well to feel how it
would feel if it was done to her.
“You are described as intelligent, reliable and keen
to learn; it is difficult to understand your offending.
“We find it difficult to understand why you would
think it was cool.”
He said he was not entirely convinced of her remorse.
There had been a starting point of two years’ jail
with a 25 per cent discount for a guilty plea and 25 per cent discount for her
In considering a non –custodial sentence when left
with 12 months, JP Whitta said two years of probation with six months of
community service would be the sentence.
Check would be ordered to attend workshops as directed
and not to leave the Cook Islands without permission.
She was ordered to pay $10,862 reparation and court
costs of $50.
“You have avoided jail by the skin of your teeth; we
worked very hard on the sentence,” JP Whitta said.
“You only get one chance; you now have a very serious
conviction; it stays with you for the rest of your life.”