A 24-year-old male has been jailed for 10 years for one count of sexual violation and one count of indecent assault against a 25-year-old work colleague.
In handing down the sentence, Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson told Viliamu Sanjose Uliao that the law does not treat raping a woman lightly.
“You may not fully appreciate the gravity of what you, Viliamu did, but I can assure you the law does not treat rape of a woman lightly,” he told the defendant.
“The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment.”
Prosecutor was Anne Matalasi of the Attorney General’s Office while the defendant was unrepresented.
A suppression order was issued in respect to the victim’s name and other details and it also extended to her work place as well as the defendant’s work place. Viliamu, married with children, pleaded guilty.
According to the Police summary of facts, Uliao and the victim were work colleagues.
“On Saturday, 1st of June, the place of employment of the victim and the defendant had a party, with her boyfriend as well as some other friends. It started in the afternoon and continued to the early hours of Sunday.
“Sometime after midnight, the victim had enough to drink and decided to call it a night. She then went in to her bedroom and fell asleep on the bed.
“Before she fell asleep her boyfriend joined her and they had consensual sex, after which the boyfriend returned to the party leaving the victim alone in the bedroom.
“At some stage thereafter, the defendant went to the victim’s room and saw the victim asleep. The defendant told the probation office that the sight of the half-naked victim aroused him.”
The defendant then raped her while she was asleep.
“After some time the victim began to wake from her sleep and at first thought it was her boyfriend however, as she started to feel the defendants body, she realized it was not her boyfriend.
“She tried to push him off but the defendant persisted and continued with his actions.”
According to the victim’s evidence, she then began kicking the defendant and it was the kicking that caused him to fall off the bed.
Her boyfriend was attracted by the commotion and when the light turned on everyone saw the defendant.
She told him off because she was surprised that he would do such a thing to her without her consent. She said in her evidence that she cried but the defendant did not seem to care too much about what he had just done.
In the morning when the alcohol wore off, she confronted the defendant.
He did not apologise for his behavior and this made her even angrier. She reported the matter to the Police.
According to Justice Vui, the victim had to testify because initially when the summary of facts was put to the defendant, he objected to certain parts of the victim’s statement.
Therefore the evidence of the victim and the evidence of an eye-witness were called.
“In determining where your case fits, I take into account the vulnerability of the complainant who had been drinking and was asleep alone in her room when you entered,” Justice Vui said.
“There also appears to be some pre-meditation on your part because you were drinking with the girl, you knew her condition and state of intoxication but when you saw her asleep on the bed, you saw an opportunity and you took it.”
According to the prosecution report there has also been a breach of trust on the fact that the defendant and the victim were workmates.
“I am not sure that it is a significant factor, but it is clear you were workmates for a long time and she would have been entitled to feel safe hanging around with you,” Justice Vui told the defendant.
“What is a clear aggravating factor is the impact this offending has had on the girl.”
According to the victim’s impact report, she is unhappy and depressed.
“She stated things like she has yet to find closure,” said Justice Vui.
“She talks about being unhappy and depressed because she is always thinking about what you did and she is embarrassed to face people because she senses they are talking behind her back about what had happened.
“When she saw you in court it reminded her of the incident and she only wanted to retaliate and punish you for what she is going through.
“She is particularly hurt because she has known you for years and did not think you would do something like this to her as she has always treated you like part of her own family.
“According to reports she and her partner almost split up as a result of your actions, however they have managed to work through these difficult times and her partner has become very supportive.”
Justice Vui started sentencing at 12 years imprisonment.
“For deductions from that start point Viliamu you have a good pre-sentence report, it talks of your service to your aiga.
“There is also a testimonial from your pastor referring to your service to the church in particular the youth group. To reflect that and also your clean police record I deduct 6 months, leaves 11½ years.
“Defendants are also usually given a deduction for an apology and reconciliation but the complainant clearly is not impressed with your apology.
“In her victim impact report, she says you approached her at court to apologise but she thinks the apology was not genuine because you were smiling and it all seemed like a joke to you.
“She did tell the probation office, however that your mother approached her and apologised on your behalf, and there were also approaches from other members of the family. I will accordingly make a nominal deduction of three months, leaves 11¼ years.
“You are entitled to a deduction for your guilty plea; however your objection to the summary of facts meant that the victim and an eyewitness had to testify.
“And there was no real basis to your objection Viliamu; the victim’s evidence was compelling and credible as was that of the eyewitness.
“This all dilutes the value of your guilty plea and accordingly I cannot give you the full deduction but I will deduct 1¼ years from your sentence, leaves 10 years.
“In respect of the charge of sexual violation by way of rape convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Any remand in custody time to be deducted.
“In respect of the other charge of indecent assault that is a superfluous charge, it is dismissed.”