Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek recently sentenced a Malekula father to 4 years and 20 days behind bars for continuously raping his young adopted daughter for over a period of one year.

Jacob Toame was sentence at Lakatoro on October 20 this year after he was convicted after two days of trial on two counts of Sexual Intercourse with a child under care or protection contrary to section 96 (1) (b) of the Penal Code Act [Cap 135].

The victim who was 18 years of age during the trial was adopted by Toame and his wife at small Tautu village in Malekula when she was just 9 years old.

According to the written sentence uploaded on Paclii, the defendant tried to shift blame on other particularly other members of the family who he has personal issue with.

He even stated on his report that he believes he was compelled to commit the offence through some form of customary practices or super natural power.

Facts accepted by the Supreme Court was the victim was living with her adopted parents when the offending first started around midnight sometimes in 2011 when Toame entered his step-daughter’s bed room.

She estimated that her step-dad was engaged in different sexual activities with her 3 times a week between October 2011 and December 2012.

According to Section 96 of the Penal Code:

“(1) A person must not have or attempt to have sexual intercourse with any child, not being the person’s spouse, who is under the age of 18 years and who –

(a) being the person’s stepchild or faster child, is at the time of the intercourse or attempted intercourse living with the person as a member of the person’s family; or

“(b) not being the person’s stepchild or foster child, and not being a person living with him as the person’s spouse, is at the time of the intercourse or attempted intercourse living the person as a member of the person’s family and is under the person’s care or protection.”

It carried a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and the seriousness of the step-father’s offending is aggravated by numerous features stated by the Chief Justice.

“There was a serious breach of trust.

“The defendant was at all material times, the adoptive father of the victim girl.

“She was entitled to look up to him for guidance, care or protection.

“The Defendant abused and seriously breached that trust,” said Lunabek.

“Repetition of offending.

“The evidence showed the offending was repeated from 2011 to 2012 and on escalation from digital to penile penetration of the vagina of the girl on many times.

“The offending involved some degree of planning and premeditation.

“The evidence showed that the offence occurred at mid-night.

“The Defendant’s wife was sleeping.

“She did not know what happened to the victim girl.

“The evidence showed that the offences happened when she was not at home. She was away.

“There was a degree of confinement or detention of the complainant for periods of time against the girl’s will.

“The girl was told not to tell her adoptive mother of what the Defendant did to her.

“She was cautious that she was unable to escape during the numerous sexual encounters and that reasonably maximized the trauma she must have endured.

“The complainant was humiliated and subjected to further sexual indignities as opposed to mere penile intercourse. On the facts, the Defendant went further and beyond having sexual intercourse with the victim girl by digital and penile penetration.

“The potential psychological harm endured by the girl as a result of the form of control by the defendant is a serious aggravating factors.

“There was an age disparity between the Defendant who was a mature and experienced man of 43 years when he commenced sexual intercourse with the girl.

“The girl was a child of 13 years when the Defendant started abusing her and continued to abuse her until she was 14 years of age. READ MORE