Court Report

reporters@samoanews.com

CAMERON IEREMIA 

After failing to comply with all conditions of probation, the High Court more than a week ago sentenced Cameron Ieremia to serve out the remainder of his jail term.

Ieremia was ordered to serve 28 months in jail, which was one of the conditions of a 7-year probation sentence, after he was convicted of second degree burglary in 2013.

The court ordered that Ieremia only serve 12 months behind bars while the other 16 months will be waived - as long as he abides with all conditions of probation, which require him to remain a law abiding citizen, and visit the Probation Office as required.

Earlier this year in June, the Probation Office filed a motion to revoke probation after the defendant failed to visit the Probation Office. During a hearing last month, Ieremia pled guilty to failure to visit the Probation Office and early this month the High Court revoked the provision of probation which waived the remaining 16 months behind bars.

He was immediately ordered to be taken to the Territorial Correctional Facility after undergoing a drug test.

(Original Samoan story published Aug. 5th, Samoa News online edition)

GRANDMOTHER JAILED FOR BEATNG GRANDDAUGHTER

A grandmother accused of using a PVC pipe to assault her 11-year-old granddaughter was ordered last week by the District Court to serve 120 days behind bars, as a condition of a 24-month probation sentence.

Upu Togia was initially charged with third degree assault, a class A misdemeanor punishable by not more than one-year in jail, or a fine of not more than $1,000 - or both. She was also charged with misdemeanor private peace disturbance, which was dismissed under the a plea agreement with the government.

According to court information, it was June 19th this year that a neighbor reported to police, injuries to the victim, who was assaulted by her grandmother using a PVC pipe. It was revealed that the girl sustained many bruises to her body  - and injuries to her head - as a result of the beating.

It’s not clear how many times the grandmother assaulted the victim.

Togia told police that what she did was discipline her granddaughter, teaching her right from wrong, because she was not behaving well, according to court information.

During sentencing both the defense and government sought a probative sentence. Before District Court Judge Fiti A. Sunia handed down the sentence, he questioned many things, like how many people are residing at Togia’s home, including children, and what happened to the victim.

The government provided a report from the Department of Human and Social Services which states that there are six other children living at the home where the defendant resides and the 11-year old victim remains under the care of the government, until she and her parents travel to Samoa to reside there permanently.

Sunia said the court is shocked with the injuries sustained by the victim, because based on reports received by the court, it appears that the victim suffered serious beatings and on a daily basis, at the hands of the defendant.

He also said the court suspects that no one knew about the ongoing beatings and the victim’s suffering, because of the isolation of the grandmother’s home at Afono, and it is difficult for authorities to investigate these types of cases in isolated locations.

Sunia said the court believes the defendant had been doing this for a long time but the government didn’t know about it until the neighboring family reported the matter to police. Moreover, none of the children living with the defendant alerted anyone about it.

To the grandmother, Sunia said such action is not acceptable by the court and that no child should suffer such form of assault, using a PVC pipe.

Sunia sentenced Togia to 12 months in jail, but execution of the sentence was suspended and the defendant is to serve 120-days in jail, as part of a 24-month probation period. The 50-days of pretrial confinement counts towards the defendant’s term of imprisonment. The court also set various conditions of probation and Sunia informed the defendant that violating any of those conditions means she will serve out the remaining 12 months.

(Original Samoan story published in the Aug. 9th Lali section of Samoa News)

ROPETI MUAO

The High Court has taken under consideration a plea agreement read last week in which a 46-year old man pled guilty to using a sharp weapon that caused injuries to a juvenile.

Ropeti Muao was initially charged with felony first degree assault, punishable by life in prison or at least 30 years in jail; but under a plea agreement with the government, the defendant will plead guilty to second degree assault - which is still a felony - punishable by no more than 5 years imprisonment, or a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.

With the guilty plea, the defendant admits that some time on May 4th this year, he caused serious injuries to a juvenile by using a 12-inch pair of scissors to hit the victim’s head and neck several times.

Muao, who remains in custody at the TCF, returns to court on Oct. 27th for another hearing, during which the court is expected to announce its decision on the plea agreement.

FERETI LAUTALA

During his initial appearance in District Court last week, 24-year-old Fereti Lautala pled not guilty plea to two misdemeanor counts of stealing and public peace disturbance.

 He was released on his own recognizance to await another court appearance, scheduled for next month.

Lautala is accused of stealing a bag containing carpentry equipment from the bed of  a pickup truck two weeks ago in Utulei. A tax driver, whose taxi was in the area where the alleged incident occurred, witnessed the matter and quickly reported it to police, who were able to apprehend the defendant, along with the bag.

According to court information, police could smell alcohol on the defendant when he was taken into custody. Under the conditions of release set by the court, the defendant is prohibited from consuming alcohol and he is to remain a law abiding citizen.

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