More Top Stories

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Domestic violence assault earns suspended sentence

Monday 4 March 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National


Domestic violence assault  earns suspended sentence

A man who punched and slapped a woman twice has been given a suspended sentence.

Petero Naivalu was given a 12-month suspended sentence for two counts of assault on a female after his lawyer, Lavi Rokoika, argued that the sentencing recommendations provided by Probation Services and Police Prosecution were too excessive.

However, Justice of the Peace Tangi Taoro took into consideration the submissions from Prosecution and Probation Services and highlighted the seriousness of the assault inflicted on the victim.

“Assault on a female, domestic violence will not be taken lightly,” JP Taoro said.

Naivalu appeared at the Criminal Court in Avarua on Wednesday, where he was convicted for punching the victim twice and slapping her twice on the face last year.

Police received a report at 8.41am on February 4, 2023, about an assault on a female in Muri. Naivalu was inside the victim’s room when she returned to get her phone.

Upon his arrest, he refused to make a statement.

Represented by defense counsel Rokoika via Zoom call, she told JP Taoro that they acknowledged the circumstances of the offense.

She argued that it happened at a short time, the victim did not return home overnight, and that the matter revolved around jealousy.

Rokoika said Naivalu had apologised to the victim, who stated that it was all in the past now and hoped this would not occur again. She added that the accused had no previous convictions.

Noting the pre-sentence report from Probation Services, Rokoika argued that the penalty was too excessive and that the court should disregard its recommendations.

She further argued that Prosecution’s recommendation of an 18-month suspended sentence was also too excessive.

Rokoika explained that considering the proportionality of the recommendations, she believed that 18 months until sentencing was too long. While they acknowledged that a conviction was the only possible outcome, she argued that this would be a mark that would “hinder” Naivalu’s work overseas.

“Most foreign workers come to the Cook Islands as a stepping stone to New Zealand and Australia,” Rokoika said. “A conviction will be a mark for the rest of his life and a short order to come up for sentencing would be appropriate.”

She suggested a six-month suspended sentence.

JP Taoro noted that Naivalu’s case had been ongoing for a year since the offence. He had shown remorse and asked for leniency, claiming he did not mean to hurt the victim. She added that they were in a relationship.

JP Taoro stated that according to the victim impact statement, the victim had moved back to Aitutaki and wanted the defendant to be held accountable for his actions.

JP Taoro said she did not think the recommendations from Probation Services and Prosecution were excessive, but she did acknowledge a 12-month delay in the case.

Naivalu was convicted and ordered to come up for sentencing within 12 months if called upon. He was also ordered to pay $20 for the victim’s medical costs and $100 in court costs.