Faults in procedure and the handling of Magistrateâs 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 wasÂ 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 Magistrateâs 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.
âThis case illustrates the importance of Magistrates carefully recording procedural steps and the Court preserving those records,â 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’amoheloaâs conviction and did not order any retrial.