Cato quashes conviction; cites faulty procedures and poor record keeping

Ne hoko e ngaahi tamele he founga mo e anga hono fakahoko ‘e he Fakamaau’anga Polisi’ ha hopo ke fakata’e’aonga’i ai ‘e he Fakamaau’anga Lahi’ ha tautea ki ha tō’onga ta’etaau ki ha fefine he māhina kuo ‘osi’. Na’e tautea’i ‘a ‘Unaloto Tu’amoheloa ki he tō’onga ta’etaau mamafa ki ha fefine ‘i he ‘aho pe ofi he ‘aho 19 ‘Epeleli 2017 taimi ne kei ta’u 15 ai. Na’e tautea malu’i angalelei ia ki tu’a pea ngāue ki he komiunitii’ houa ‘e 40. Ne tangi ‘a Tu’amoheloa ‘o pehē ne ‘ikai ha lekooti lelei ‘o e me’a ne hoko’ ‘i he Fakamaau’anga Polisi’ pea puli e ngaahi fakamatala ne hiki tohi mei ha fo’i tepi fakataha mo e ‘ū faile ‘a e kau Polisi’ Na’e pehē ‘e Fakamaau Lahi Cato na’e ‘ikai ha fakamo’oni ne muimui e Fakamaau Polisi’ ki he founga totonu ‘o e fakamaau’anga’ mo tauhi e ngaahi lēkōti’. Na’a’ ne tali ai e tangi ‘a Tu’amoheloa pea fakata’e’aonga’i hono tautea’.

Faults in procedure and the handling of Magistrate’s court proceedings led the Supreme Court to quash a conviction for indecency last month.

‘Unaloto Tu’amoheloa was convicted of serious indecency on or about the 19th April 2017 when he was aged 15. He was  sentenced to probation and 40 hours of community work.

He appealed his conviction in October last year. After several adjournments the case came before Mr Justice Cato on June 1.

He said there were no proper records of what had happened in the Magistrate’s Court hearing and that vital documents such as court transcripts and police files were missing.

There was not even a record of whether Tu’amoheloa had pleaded guilty.

“This case illustrates the importance of Magistrates carefully recording procedural steps and the Court preserving those records,” the judge said.

He said there was no evidence that the Magistrate has followed proper procedure and informed Tu’amoheloa that he could be dealt with summarily instead of being tried by a Judge of the Supreme Court or by a jury.

The judge said he should have been released on bail because it was unsafe to incarcerate young prisoners with adult offenders.

He said it appeared that the case was meant to proceed in the Youth Court, but for some reason this had not happened.

On these grounds Mr Justice Cato allowed the appeal, quashed Tu’amoheloa’s conviction and did not order any retrial.

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