A Justice of the Peace has reserved her decision over whether a woman who pulled another person’s hair in a domestic altercation was guilty of assault.
Elsie Terema Boag Elisa appeared before Justice of the
Peace Tangi Taoro in the Criminal Court in Avarua on Tuesday.
She was facing a charge of assault.
According to police prosecution, the incident took
place on December 20, 2022.
It was alleged that Elisa, then dropped off her two
sons at the complainant’s home in Tupapa.
The complainant and her partner drove their vehicle
towards Nikao, only for Elisa to follow the pair in her vehicle.
It was alleged that Elisa parked up her vehicle in
front of the complainant’s vehicle. She then attempted to open the door of the
complainant’s car, and tried to grab one of her sons from the back of the car. The
complainant attempted to drive away, while Elisa was in the back of the car.
There was a verbal argument between Elisa and the complainant,
and Elisa grabbed the complainant by her hair and pulled it.
The complainant managed to get out of the vehicle,
along with Elisa, where an altercation occurred.
During that altercation, the complainant’s partner
attempted to break up the fight.
“The accused applied force to the complainant,” Senior
Sergeant Fairoa Tararo told the Court.
Defence counsel Norman George told the Court that the
situation was “not black and white” and was “quite an involved matter”.
“It’s a Family Court-related domestic dispute,
involving heavily-contested custody of children. This is not a straight common
assault by one person on the other, this is a combination of abuse, threatening
and taunting by the other party as well as the accused,” George told the Court.
“It erupted. Both of the women were injured. But
police have focused on only one side of the matter. The defence’s position is
that both parties were involved. The whole situation should end with a draw.”
During the defended hearing, George cross-examined the
complainant, who admitted that she also bit, punched and pulled Elisa’s hair
during the altercation when the pair got out of the car.
George argued that because it was a fight involving
two people, there was equal blame, and therefore should be considered a fight
and not an assault.
Senior Sergeant Tararo told the Court that Elisa
instigated the fight when she pulled the complainant’s hair, and therefore
should be considered guilty of assault.
George also criticized the police’s approach to the
matter in that they handcuffed her without arresting Elisa while she was
attending church on the day after the alleged assault.
“This was interrupting someone’s right to worship,”
She was then taken to the police station, interviewed,
However, Tararo explained to the Court that they had
good cause to believe that Elisa was avoiding police.
JP Taoro reserved her decision and will deliver her
verdict on July 18.