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11 November 2022

Woman avoids jail time for repeated probation breaches

Saturday 8 April 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Court, National


Woman avoids jail time for repeated probation breaches
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511

A woman who has repeatedly breached her probation conditions has avoided jail because she has a job.

Chelsie Napa appeared in the Criminal Court on Thursday facing two charges of breaching probation. 

Her conviction comes at the same time authorities have expressed frustrations over the extent to which they have to intervene when court orders are breached. 

The court heard she breached her probation twice last month when she failed to report.

She was sentenced to two years’ probation in April last year on cannabis charges.

A probation officer said it was her third appearance, her first in 2022 when she failed to report for community service. Again on March 16, she failed to report and was convicted and fined. Then again on March 23 and 30 she failed to report.

Probation had considered jail but given she was employed, they suggested three months of community service.

Probation said she had called in sick on six of 36 Saturdays over a nine-month period.

Justice of the Peace John Whitta said, given the series of breaches, the court did not want to jeopardise her employment.

He said reporting to probation was the easiest punishment to fulfil.

“It’s a thing you have signed and accepted,” JP Whitta told Napa.

“Just turn up; it is fortunate that you have a job. . . you have 12 months to go, just keep reporting . . . just keep on top of it.”

JP Whitta said he would add three months of community service to the probation term.    

She was convicted and ordered to complete three months’ community service, and ordered to pay $50 court costs.  

Meanwhile the latest figures show in the first quarter (three months) of 2023, Police arrested and charged 58 people. 

A total of 113 charges were sworn to the court, with a total of 85 cases dealt with.

In a statement, Police said the public was often unaware of the extent to which Police must intervene when court orders are breached.

When a breach is detected, Police must intervene to enforce those orders.

Defendants are subject to certain conditions (including bail) when rulings have been made.

Police figures show, in terms of those falling under ongoing monitoring, 125 disqualified drivers (DQ), 10 people under curfew conditions, 39 people on a “no fly” list (under alert not to leave Rarotonga/Cook Islands), and about 30 subject to probation conditions.

Bail conditions can include work arrangements, restrictions on entering licensed premises, and no contact with victims and witnesses.

In some cases, there are individuals who cross over into different areas of restrictions. In the case of travel restrictions, a small number of people have been allowed to leave on medical grounds.

Domestic violence incidents can also result in the application of Safety Orders (issued by Police) and Protection Orders (issued by the court), and any breaches will prompt Police intervention.

Police work closely with Internal Affairs on family violence, as well as border control agencies Immigration and Customs, and Probation Services, which play an active role in monitoring compliance with court orders.

  • With additional reporting by Police Media