Court dismisses theft charge

By Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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The District Court Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai has dismissed one charge of theft against a 20 year old defendant, Eterei Faatupunuu. 

The decision was based on the evidence presented in court last week by the 70-year-old complainant, Moasegi Tito Leasiolani. 

Ms Faatupunuu was accused of stealing an ATM card belonging to the elderly father and withdrawing cash of more than $3,000 from his personal account.  The complainant is a retired man from the United States of America to Samoa and was a taxi driver before his wife took over after the incident.  Moasegi recalled that he answered a phone call to their stand to pick up a passenger from a BBQ place at Moata’a, and when he arrived, the accused hopped in the car. 

He then took her for a ride around Aleipata, Falealili and they returned back through the Cross Island Road. 

He said when he dropped off the accused that day, he didn’t know his ATM card was missing. 

In his evidence, he said the ATM card was wrapped in a piece of paper with the pin number on it.  He said when he went to check his balance, someone has withdrawn money from his account.  When Moasegi was cross examined by the accused, Faatupunuu asked him if he gave her the ATM card and told her the pin number? 

However, Moasegi denied that he had given her any card. 

Faatupunuu also told Moasegi that she didn’t want to take the ATM card, but he had insisted because he wanted to meet up with her in a motel at the beginning of the week. 

Moasegi denied such evidence. 

In the defendant’s evidence, she admitted that she went with Moasegi for a ride to Aleipata and Falealili because they already made plans two day before the incident. 

She said Moasegi picked her up from the BBQ place at Moata’a around 12noon and they went for a ride that day, and they made a stop at Moasegi’s family at Falealili. 

Faatupunuu told the court, during the whole trip she was sitting in the back of the car she only hopped in the front seat when she was driving the car from Tiavi to Apia. 

“He gave me the ATM card and told me to do what I want and we would meet at Harbour View on Monday,” said told the court.  She denied the prosecution’s questions that she took advantage of the complainant because he was old.

Prosecutor Lucy Sio’s argument was, the accused knew that the complainant had an ATM Card and the pin was also written on the piece of paper wrapped around it. 

Not only that but Faatupunuu knew that Moasegi had a hearing problem and he tended to forget things easily. 

However, Faatupunuu said she never took advantage of the complainant, she knew he has a hearing problem but she never intended to take anything from him. 

“He gave me the card and told me the pin because he wanted us to have a relationship that’s why,” she answered.  After the trial yesterday, the court was not satisfied with the evidence by the complainant Moasegi that he did not give the ATM card to the accused. 

However, the court accepted the accused evidence that the complainant gave the ATM card and the pin number to the accused. 

That charge was dismissed. 

However Ms Faatupunuu will appear for sentencing on the 24 August in relation to the money she withdrew from the complainant’s account.

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