Kaniva Tonga

The Supreme Court has handed down a fully suspended two year sentence to a married couple who stole TP$62,000 worth of artefacts from a relative.

Ana Moala Tu’itavuki and Malakai Tu’itavuki  pleaded guilty  before Lord Chief Justice Whitten  on a charge that they stole the artefacts from Tangiloto Po’oi,69, of Tongatapu, who is ‘Ana’s grandmother.

Lord Chief Justice Whitten described it as an unusual case in which the victim showed a rare level of forgiveness.

The grandmother became ill and moved to Vaini to stay with ‘Ana’s family.

While she was away the couple stole the artefacts.

These included finely woven mats and other items that were described as family heirlooms. Because Mrs Po’oi can no longer weave the mats are irreplaceable.

The stolen items were then sold to a trader who was identified to police.

However, the items have not  been recovered.

When she discovered the thefts the grandmother complained to the police in order to teach the thieves a lesson.

She tried to persuade the police not prosecute them, but the Crown proceeded on the grounds that the theft was a serious one.

She then paid for a lawyer to defend her thieving relatives.

“I will suffer twice in this matter,” Po’oi said.

“Not only has my property been stolen, but now I am financially responsible for defending my own granddaughter and her husband…at the end of it all I will bear all the consequences…particularly if my granddaughter is convicted.”

Lord Chief Justice Whitten said that in sentencing the couple he took into account the extraordinary forgiveness on the part of Mrs Po’oi towards her granddaughter and her husband, as well as the immediate confession of guilt and cooperation of the accused.

He sentenced them to two years jail and then suspended the sentence completely on condition that, among other things, they perform 100 hours community work, including repairs, maintenance and improvements on the grandmother’s property and attend a Salvation Army Life skills course.

The main points

  • The Supreme Court has handed down a fully suspended two year sentence to a married couple who stole TP$62,000 worth of artefacts from a relative.
  • Ana Moala Tu’itavuki and Malaki Tu’itavuki  pleaded guilty  before Lord Chief Justice Whitten  on a charge that they stole the artefacts from Tangiloto Po’oi, 69, of Tongatapu, who is ‘Ana’s grandmother.

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