A man who crawled into a mosquito net and attacked a pregnant woman while she was sleeping with her children has been sentenced to 5 years and 3 months by the Supreme Court of Samoa.
Ichikawa Paulo, 26 of Tuasivi Savaii was found guilty of assault with the intention to commit sexual violation, unlawful sexual connection and grevious bodily harm.
Paulo had been previously convicted of burglary and theft in 2015 and GBH (grevious bodily harm) in 2017. For those crimes, the Court had shown leniency and Paulo was given a chance to undergo rehabilitation programs with the Probation Unit.
According to the Police summary of facts presented by Justice Fepuleai during sentence, the victim, pregnant at the time, was attacked on the night of her 31st birthday on the 12th of October, 2019.
The Court heard that on that day, Ichikawa had attended the victim’s birthday party but was thrown out by the victim’s brother-in-law because he was too drunk.
On the evening of that same day the accused went back to the house of the victim while she was sleeping with her children. The victim’s husband was drinking with people in a house nearby.
The accused went into the mosquito net and sexually violated the victim, forcibly removing her shorts.
The victim woke up and called for help so the defendant assaulted her, hitting her with a piece of metal that had been inside the mosquito net.
The woman was able to escape her attacker, and ran to where her husband had been drinking, still half naked.
The defendant pleaded guilty however, issues were raised in relation to the charge of assault with the intention to commit sexual violation, in Section 53(2) of the Crimes Act 2013.
Defense counsel Matafeo George Latu argued that the actions of his client and what had happened that night did not meet the requirements of S52(3) in that his client committed the sexual violation before the assault.
He also argued that there was no connection between his client’s previous convictions, and these charges before the Court.
Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma said he understood well the requirements of S53(2), however, the Court has examined the crimes committed holistically; adding that it was not important whether the assault or the sexual violation came first.”
“E ui ou te malamalama i manaoga o le tulafono lea 53(2) e manaomia le faia o se faaogalima ma le faamoemoe e faia se faiga aiga faamalosi, ou te le talia…ou te lē ioeina foi le vaega o le finauga e faapea e tatau ona tupu muamua se faaoogalima ae lei faia ni uiga e atagia ai se faamoemoega e faia se faiga aiga faamalosi.”
“O le manatu o le Faamasinoga o le itu taua lava ia vaai toto’a i le faatinoga o le soligatulafono i lona atoaga ma mea na tutupu, e le taua pe na muamua le faaoogalima pe mulimuli fo’i..”
Justice Fepuleai said one of the aggravating features is that the victim was in the final months of her pregnancy.
Justice Roma said that a custodial sentence is suitable for Ichikawa, taking 9 years as a starting point.
Justice Roma deducted 18 months for the village penalty and 6 months for his family’s attempts to apologise and reconcile with the victim’s family.
The defendant was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months for assault with the intention to commit sexual violation; 5 years for unlawful sexual connection, and 5 years for greviously bodily harm.
Sentences are to be served concurrently, less time in custody.