A man charged with allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl living in his home has been granted bail yesterday in the High Court.
No plea was entered by the defendant, who
could not be named to protect the victim, but through his defence lawyer,
Norman George, a bail application was successfully made.
Bail was opposed by Crown lawyer Annabel
Maxwell-Scott who said the incident was serious and Crown evidence for the case
Concerns that the defendant could interfere
with witnesses in the case was included in reasons the Crown opposed bail.
Maxwell-Scott said the 15-year-old girl had
since moved out of the defendant’s home and is living with her friend in a safe
Crown prosecution acknowledged the defendant
had no previous criminal convictions.
Maxwell-Scott was optimistic the trial could
happen this year and said the seriousness of the crime would likely make the
case a priority. Defence lawyer George said his client is under the presumption
of innocence until proven guilty, despite presumptions by prosecution.
George disagreed with the prosecution’s
suggestion that his client should be denied bail on the basis of a serious
“All offences in the Crimes Act are serious.”
George said the decision to grant or not grant
bail should not be skewed by emotions. He said bail is denied if a person is a
threat to the community, himself and the victim.
“There will be an element of injustice if he
is denied bail.”
Justice of the Peace, John Whitta said: “I
think what happens too often is we do tend to transplant the seriousness of the
offence to a likelihood of reoffending.”
JP Whitta said he does not have anything
before him that suggests the defendant will offend.
He also said the trial would still be some
time away, so bail is appropriate.
Bail was granted but on strict conditions. The
defendant cannot leave Rarotonga without the permission of the High Court, is
not to interfere with witnesses, must report to police every Friday, has to be
at home from 7pm to 7am, and is not to be in the company of any female under
the age of 16 unaccompanied. The matter is adjourned to May 13.