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High Court Sets Aside Jail Sentence, Quashes Accused Conviction

High Court Sets Aside Jail Sentence, Quashes Accused Conviction
August 23
16:39 2018

A man who was convicted and jailed for sexually assaulting his step-daughter had his conviction quashed and sentence set aside by the High Court in Labasa yesterday.

The accused was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The facts of the case revealed that the girl was around five to six-years-old when the offence happened.

She told the court that her stepfather came to her bed drunk one morning at about 4am to 5am, undressed her and sexually assaulted her. As soon as he left, she went and told her mother what happened and a report was made to the Police.

On December 6, 2017, the accused was convicted in the Magistrates Court and he was sentenced on June 6, 2018, and ordered to serve a minimum term of 12 months imprisonment.

He appealed his conviction on the grounds that he was not given an explanation as to his rights in defence, he was not given the election to have his indictable offence tried in the High Court and that the learned Magistrate failed to take his evidence into consideration.

While delivering his judgment Justice Paul Madigan said failure to allow an accused the option to elect venue makes the entire proceedings null and void.

At the trial the accused testified that he was out late that night drinking grog and had his shower when he returned home and slept on a mattress in the sitting room with the children who sleep with him every night.

His wife came into the room a little later and was angry at him, saying “you’ll be sorry” before leaving.

Twenty minutes later she returned with the accusation that he abused their daughter.

Justice Madigan said the learned Magistrate analysed the evidence of all the prosecution witnesses in her detailed written judgment and while she rehearsed the accused’s evidence, she however failed to state that she had taken it into account in her deliberations.

“An accused has a right for his evidence to be taken into account,” he said.

“To know that the tribunal has considered it and given it the weight it deserves. A very busy Magistrate need do no more, but to say that he or she has considered the evidence of the accused, but rejected it.”

“Every accused who gives evidence deserves to know that the Court has turned its mind to what he or she says.”

Justice Madigan said unfortunately this was not done and as a result justice had not been seen to have been done.

Accordingly, the accused’s conviction was quashed and his sentence was set aside.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra


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