Chief Justice Adjourns Sentence, Says Accused Should Not Have Pleaded Guilty to Rape

Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese

Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese has adjourned the sentence of an elderly man who pleaded guilty to raping his step-granddaughter, saying the defendant had told Probation that he did not commit the act of sexual intercourse.

The accused had originally pleaded not guilty to 8 counts of rape and 3 of incest with his wife’s 16 year old granddaughter.

However, on the 22nd of August he pleaded guilty to one charge of rape through his lawyer Sifuiva Maureen Tuimalealiifano.

In Court, Sifuiva had queried just one part of the Police Summary of Facts, to do with the sequence of actions by the defendant leading up to the rape.

“The police summary of facts says rape came before penetration with fingers (kuikui) whereas the defense counsel submission stated the act of penetration came before rape”.

However, Chief Justice Satiu said he could not properly determine what the defendant had pleaded guilty to, because the Police Summary of Facts, the Probation Report, and the Final Submission of defense counsel were all different.

“The defendant should not have pleaded guilty to rape because he states in his interview with probation, that he did not have sexual intercourse with the 16 year old girl..

“He shouldn’t plead guilty to the charge of rape when he said that he didn’t have sexual intercourse with the girl;

“He gives out a completely different account of what he was alleged to have done, and according to him, it’s not right..” said the Chief Justice.

The CJ went on to say that when he received counsel submissions, he found them to be “completely different from what was set out in the summary of facts, and what was set out in the pre-sentence report”.

“I have difficulty with carrying out the sentencing; the reason for that is there are three different versions of facts, and they are all very different, and it will reflect on a sentence I have to hand down to this defendant;

“I’m not in the position here to sentence until I have one summary of facts that I can work with,” concluded the Chief Justice.

Prosecution had also stood to apologise for providing their final submission the day before, and the victim impact report on the morning of sentence. The CJ thanked defense counsel Sifuiva for her submission received a week in advance.

The rape sentence would have been the first decision to be delivered by Chief Justice Satui since taking up the position in June this year.

Maina Vai