A 22-year-old man has been sentenced to three years and nine months behind bars after he pleaded guilty to raping a 16-year-old girl.

His name has been withheld for security reasons.

The facts showed that the defendant agreed with revealed that in January 2016 the complainant had asked to have sex with the victim but she refused. He then forcefully grabbed her by the hand, took her into the bush and had sexual intercourse with her without her consent.

Justice Gus Andree Wiltens said the defendant admitted the offending when questioned by the police after his arrest.

He said there are two aggravating factors to the offending – firstly, the young age of the complainant – she was only 16 and still attending school; and secondly, the fact that no protection was used – thereby exposing the young girl to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

The judge said there are no mitigating factors relating to the offending.

He said that prosecution counsel Philip Toaliu submitted that the aggravating factors should be reflected in an uplift of 12 months imprisonment over the usual starting point of five years imprisonment for this type of criminal behaviour set out in PP vs Scott.

Justice Andree Wiltens said the starting point for this offending, as required to be identified by PP vs Andy is set to the current case at 5 years 4 months imprisonment.

He said the defendant has a clear previous record and is still relatively young, currently being 22 years old – he was 19 when he committed the offence.

Justice Wiltens said that these factors enabled a discount of six months imprisonment from the starting point.

“There is some confusion regarding whether there have been one or two custom reconciliation ceremonies”, he said.

“The defendant said there have been two, and that significant items were exchanged to demonstrate his remorse.

“However, one of the letters identifying this is said to be from Chief Bob – but Chief Bob denies writing any such letter, or being aware of any ceremony.

“I give the defendant the benefit of the doubt – I am prepared to accept that there was at least one ceremony.

“A further reduction from the starting point is accordingly made of eight months imprisonment”.

Justice Andree Wiltens said a discount is allowed for prompt guilty pleas which saves court time, the acceptance of wrong-doing, the inherent remorse, and the sparing of a victim from having to come to court and re-live her ordeal.

The defendant also qualified for some reduction due to accepting his wrong-doing and saving some court time but did not accept his plea indicated remorse, and it certainly did not spare the victim from having to come from her home island in the expectation of having to testify.

“For his guilty plea, I allow the defendant a 10% reduction,” he said.

“Taking all of these matters into account, the end sentence that be imposed is one of three years nine months imprisonment and I impose that to commence from the date of his incarceration, namely September 19, 2017”.


SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST