Judge in underage sex case says ‘age could be deceptive’

    Tuku ange 'e he fakamaau'anga lahi ha tangata ta'u 18 na'e faka'ilo ki he hia ko e 'unoho mo ha ta'ahine si'i hifo 'i he ta'u 15. Pehē 'e he fakamaau 'oku lava pe ke kākā 'a e ta'u 'o 'ikai mahino. Na'a ne tui ki he fakamatala 'a e faka'iloa 'o pehē na'e 'ikai pe ke ne 'ilo 'e ia 'oku ta'u si'i 'a e ta'ahine. Ne iku 'o feitama foki 'a e ta'ahine ni ka ne fa'ele'i mai 'ene pēpee kuo mate.

    Justice Charles Cato said age could be deceptive when he discharged an 18-year-old man who admitted having sex with an underage teen who was just over 14.

    The accused, Sione Siliva Pohiva Tatakamotonga, was charged with one count of carnal knowledge of a young person under the age of 15 contrary to sections 121(2) and 123 of the Criminal Offences Act.

    The court was told the complainant first met the accused when she went to a fair at Lapaha in 2016 which belonged to her uncle.

    Later that week the pair met outside the complainant’s home where they had sex before the accused left.

    The complainant told the court the accused did not ask for her age or what level she was in at school.

    As a consequence of the intercourse she became pregnant . She did not tell the accused.

    Her family found out about her pregnancy and they filed a complaint with Police.

    The victim gave birth on April, 23,  2017 to a child who died. The accused, she said, did not contact her until after the birth.

    “I have considered all the evidence on the issue of age. Age can be deceptive,” Justice Cato said.

    “I am left in a reasonable doubt on this issue and accordingly, the Crown has not discharged its onus of proof.

    “I also note that my reasoning would be the same should a higher standard than honest belief be required, that is one that is based on reasonable grounds. I consider his belief was in the circumstances based on a reasonable foundation, for the reasons I have given and he should be acquitted.”

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