A 45-year-old man from Buninga was recently sentenced to 4 years imprisonment, after he pleaded guilty to incest with his two stepdaughters.

The defendant was charged with two counts of incest, contrary to section 95 (1) (a) of the Penal Code Act.

Both victims were adopted by the defendant and his wife.

The first victim was 21 years old and second 25 years old.

The offending began around January 2017 when the defendant’s wife came to Port Vila and left the two complainants with their father.

Around that time, the defendant committed the offence with the first victim.

The second incident on the second victim occurred between November 2016 and February 2017.

The first victim became pregnant and following his arrest, the defendant admitted to police that he had had sexual intercourse with the two victims on different occasions.

Justice Dudley Aru said committing incest is a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, but was recently increased by Parliament to 15 years to reflect the seriousness of the offence.

However, this case was brought before the court before the law changed.

Justice Aru said the offending is aggravated by the fact that there was breach of trust and the offending occurred at home where the victims were expected to be protected.

Instead, they were violated and the first victim became pregnant.

Based on case of Public Prosecutor v. Bae case, the judge immediately adopted a custodial sentence at a starting point of 8 years imprisonment.

In his pre-sentence report it shows that the man completed his education in primary level and was unable to continue because his family could not afford to pay his fees.

He now helps out with community activities in his village and was also an elder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in his area.

He was willing to perform a custom reconciliation but has not done so at the time of the judgment being given.

In mitigation, the court considered that the man was a first time offender, he entered an early guilty plea, and he had spent 11 weeks in custody which would be deducted.

A one-third sentence discount was given for an early guilty plea, which reduced the sentence to 5 years and 3 months imprisonment.

One year was further deducted for being a first time offender and 3 months was deducted for time spent in custody, leaving an end sentence of 4 years to be served concurrently.