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Rape accused yet to enter plea

Tuesday 30 August 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Court, National

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Teina Ngametuatoe appeared before Justice Christine Grice for a call over appearance in the High Court in Avarua yesterday.

Ngametuatoe is charged with rape and multiple other indecency charges that also involve a child. He was expected to make a plea at the call over.

However, Ngametuatoe’s previous legal counsel Brian Mason told the Court that Ngametuatoe no longer wanted his service. Ngametuatoe also told Justice Grice he wanted a new lawyer.

Crown prosecutor Annabel Maxwell-Scott said the matter needed to be progressed urgently and requested that any granting of bail would be on the grounds that Ngametuatoe did not leave Rarotonga.

"My concern is that he will go back to Mangaia and bury his head in the sand again. He's facing some serious charges," Maxwell-Scott said.

Justice Grice remanded Ngametuatoe on bail and told him he would have to enter a plea on his next appearance on Friday.

Bail conditions included that he was to surrender his passport, not to leave Rarotonga, not to contact any witnesses or be with children under 16 unless present with an adult guardian.

Ngametuatoe was bailed to Mangaia on October 29, 2021, after he appeared in court in front of Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams with his associate George Pitt via Zoom.

At the time, Pitt said Ngametuatoe had agricultural and fishing interests on the island, which he needed to tend to, in order to make a living.

Pitt told the court on October 29 that there were 27 letters of reference from the island supporting Ngametuatoe and that he could not prepare for a trial if he remained on Rarotonga.

Pitt said he had spoken to the Police Commissioner and was prepared to offer a return fare for Ngametuatoe’s hearing.

At the time the Crown Prosecutor said there was a significant risk of interference with witnesses, as there were 17 of them on Mangaia, which raised concerns.

The Crown and police opposed the request while Pitt said Ngametuatoe was not high risk.

Justice Williams told Ngametuatoe he was not to have contact with persons under 16, unless in the presence of another adult, and said he could be bailed to an approved address on the island.