A man who pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with his niece, aged less than 13 years old has been jailed for nine years.

31-year-old Erick Mael abused his underage niece when she was in class 2 and class 4. The offending happened more than once at her home in Santo.

Under the Penal Code [CAP 135], the maximum punishment for having sexual intercourse with an underage person is life imprisonment.

There were no mitigating factors in Mael’s offending.

Aggravating factors include force used to commit the offences, unprotected sex, offences being repeated on several occasions, offences occurring within the confines of the home where the victim should be safe, extend of planning involved, age disparity, the mental and physical effect on the victim ad her loss of dignity.

Judge Oliver Saksak of the Supreme Court stated in the verdict of June 17, 2022: “These offences therefore warrant immediate custodial sentences to protect the young and vulnerable, to deter the defendant and other like-minded person, to mark the Court’s disapproval of those unlawful actions and to punish the offender adequately.”

Mael was given a starting sentence of 12 years. Judge Saksak refused to give him a full 1/3 reduction.

He stated, “While it was submitted by defence council the defendant should be given the full 1/3 reduction, the continuous, repetitive and deliberate unlawful actions over a period of 2 years were such that the full 1/3 reduction would be too generous, a reduction that would become encouragement rather than a deterrence. I therefore allow a reduction of only 2 years imprisonment.

“There appears to be no remorse at all for the defendant’s offendings. No reconciliation has been performed. The defendant is now 31 years old married with 4 children. He was the only breadwinner in gainful employment until his arrest and detention.

“The defendant has no previous criminal convictions. In his pre-sentence report, the defendant has apologized to the Court for his unlawful actions. For all these factors, I reduce his sentence by a further 1 year. His end sentence is therefore 9 years’ imprisonment.”

The offendings will not be suspended as they are too serious, stated Judge Saksak.

Mael is serving his 9 years’ sentence at the Correctional Centre in Luganville.

His sentence became effective from March 18 2022, when he was first taken into custody.