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Vandal claims his drinks were spiked

Wednesday 29 March 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Court, National

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Vandal claims  his drinks were spiked

A man given a suspended sentence for damaging the entrance of the Bank of the Cook Islands in a drunken state claims his drinks were spiked.

John Toeta appeared before Justice of the Peace John Whitta in the Criminal Court in Avarua on Tuesday.

He had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of wilful damage and one of drunken behaviour in a public place.

According to the summary of facts, read out in Court, the incident occurred on November 6, 2022 about 7.30am.

Toeta was spotted by a member of the public walking up to the glass doors of the Bank of the Cook Islands building and smashing the glass door. Police apprehended Toeta and took him to the nearby station.

Toeta was intoxicated, and abusive towards the police, refusing to give his name and attacking the desk.

“You have no recollection surrounding the events of your offending,” JP Whitta told Toeta.

Toeta’s defence counsel Norman George said his client suspected his drink might have been spiked the previous night.

This would explain the “out of character” behaviour, George told the Court.

JP Whitta said there was nothing they could do about that assertion now, but agreed it was “troubling” if correct.

George told the Court that Toeta had also undergone a psychiatric assessment and was found to have no underlying issues.

Toeta was also happy to pay reparations.

JP Whitta said police “took a dim view” of the role alcohol played in the offending.

“Your offending resulted in very real damage to property,” JP Whitta told Toeta.

“I was concerned about your behaviour towards the police. We were fortunate that this did not escalate.”

However, JP Whitta said to ban Toeta from purchasing or consuming alcohol would be a “kneejerk at best and excessive at worst” response to his offending.

JP Whitta convicted and sentenced him on all three charges, placing Toeta on a 12-month suspended sentence, ordering him to pay reparations of $1959, and Court costs of $150.

“I urge you to try to move on from this,” JP Whitta told Toeta.