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Jury trial for man charged with intent to injure starts

Tuesday 14 March 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, Crime, National

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Jury trial for man charged with intent to injure starts
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511

A jury has heard the opening statements in a case against a man accused of assaulting a woman.

Oswell Tunupopo is charged with injuring with intent to injure following an incident in Rarotonga on July 3, 2022.

Justice Christopher Toogood suppressed the complainant’s name and any information leading to her identification in the High Court at Avarua yesterday.

A jury of 11 women and one man heard the opening statements from the Crown and defence as Tunupopo sat with his head bowed and tearful at times.  

Crown prosecutor Mariata Pittman said the case revolved around an argument between Tunupopo and a group of people.

A number of children were present and an argument broke out about who would look after a couple of them.

A woman intervened and Tunupopo allegedly pushed her.

She allegedly pushed him back then he allegedly punched her in the face with a closed fist.

She then allegedly punched him in the testicles and hit him on the head with a coffee filter.

Both of them received cuts and were taken to hospital for treatment.

The court heard he gave police a statement a week later, admitting he hit the woman, but did not sign the statement.

Pittman said the jury must look at the circumstances and what Tunupopo actually did.

The Crown said the defendant was not acting in self-defence and the jury would view CCTV footage and see photographs.

A number of witnesses would be called to testify, including a doctor and police officer in charge of the case.

Defence lawyer Tudor Clee said his client admitted he hit the woman but the case had a lot of “nuance”.

His client was hit by the victim and it would take several days to analyse the case.

Clee said the jury would be aided by video footage.               

Tunupopo spent nearly a week on the run following the incident and was arrested on July 9 after he turned himself in.

Police received a call from an anonymous caller at 2.49pm on Sunday, July 3, who notified police about the incident.

After unsuccessful attempts by police to arrest Tunupopo, police put the call-out on Facebook asking for Tunupopo to hand himself in.

The post also asked for the public to share information on his whereabouts.

The post said it could be a punishable offence if anyone harboured Tunupopo.

The jury trial is set down for three days.