Man free after Supreme Court says rape claim was “not proven beyond a doubt”

A man has been found not guilty of rape in the Supreme Court.

Hon. Justice Cato dismissed a charge against Hemilitoni Teukata that on  or  about  March 14, 2015, at Talafo’ou,  he  had  carnal  knowledge  of a woman  against her will.

The complainant was aged 21 at the time and had two young children, one aged four and the other an infant. Her husband was away fruit picking.  She gave evidence that on that date, she was at home alone with her eldest son when the accused and a friend, Samisoni, visited about 11pm.

The complainant said that Samisoni left and the accused remained behind. She said the accused tried to force himself on her and she gave in to his demands after he threatened to kill her son.

She said that after he had sex with her he threatened to kill her and her son if she made a complaint. He left about 2am.

She subsequently told two people about the rape and then made a complaint to the police. Her husband returned three days later and she told him about the incident.

Detective Vehala said he conducted a lengthy interview with Teukata who said he had watched videos at the complainant’s house and then had consensual sex with her. He denied threatening the complainant.

He said they had sex again later that night.

Samisoni told the court the accused and the complainant had previously had a sexual relationship.

The complainant admitted the relationship.

Hon. Justice Cato then adjourned the hearing for the Crown to take instructions and consider its position.

“I also wished to  consider my position to have the witness recalled,” he said.

“This seemed to me to  be very  relevant  evidence  upon which  any competent defence counsel would have cross-examined the complainant.  The  accused  was  unrepresented  and  had  not cross­ examined  the  complainant  about  this  matter, or really anything of substance, at all.”

Hon. Justice Cato said he was concerned about the complainant’s lack of honesty about her prior relationship.

“This case involves credibility,” he said.

“There is no  supporting evidence that anybody heard the complainant screaming or distressed on the night in question. There is no evidence of any sexual complaint, although the complainant said she had told others about the rape.

“Faced   with   a   situation   where   I have evidence  admitted  to  by  the  complainant  on  recall  that  she  had recent consensual  intercourse  with  the  accused  in apparently  not dissimilar   circumstances and with  no  independent  evidence  of  her  distress  on  the  14th  March 2015,  I am  left  in doubt  as  to  where  the  truth  lies.”

The Judge said he also had concerns about the earlier statements made by the accused to police when he was not represented.

“For these  reasons,  I do  not  find  the  case  against  the  accused  of rape on March 14, 2015 proven beyond a  reasonable doubt.”

The main points

  • A man has been found not guilty of rape in the Supreme Court.
  • Justice Cato dismissed a charge against Hemilitoni Teukata that on or  about  March 14, 2015, at Talafo’ou,  he  had  carnal  knowledge  of a woman  against her will.
  • She said the accused tried to force himself on her and she gave in to his demands after he threatened to kill her son.
  • Justice Cato said he had concerns about the evidence presented in the case.

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