Crime & Court

Lagilevu Found Guilty Of Rape, Jailed For 16 Years

Man had been charged with sexual offences, escaping lawful custody and lying to public servant
30 May 2020 15:59
Lagilevu Found Guilty Of Rape, Jailed For 16 Years
Wise Ezekiel Lagilevu outside the High Court in Suva on May 29, 2020. Photo: Ashna Kuma

A 31-year-old man, declared a habitual offender, has been jailed to 16 years for committing sexually-related offences.

Wise Ezekiel Lagilevu, who is currently serving a jail term for committing sexual-related crimes, appeared before Judge Justice Daniel Goundar yesterday for sentencing.

Lagilevu was charged with one count each of rape, sexual assault, escaping from lawful custody and giving false information to a public servant.

Background:

The victim was a 20-year-old tertiary student. On December 13, 2018, at around 12pm, the victim was on her way to her mother’s workplace at Civic House when Lagilevu approached her pretending to be in need of assistance.

He told her that he was a tertiary student and needed her help to retrieve his laptop from his sister’s home at Waimanu Road. At first, the victim was not sure whether the offender was in genuine need for help, but when he gave her the impression that he was desperate, the victim agreed to help him.

On Lagilevu’s suggestion, the victim accompanied him to Waimanu Road using a shortcut. When they reached a secluded spot surrounded by cassava patch, Lagilevu turned around and told her that he wanted her sexually.

At that point, the victim realised she was in trouble. She cried and begged him not to do anything to her. Lagilevu threatened to kill her if she did not co-operate. He raped and sexually assaulted her.

After raping the victim, Lagilevu let her go. The victim got dressed and hastily made her way to her mother’s workplace in a state of distress. Her mother immediately took her to the Police station and reported the incident.

Arrest:

Lagilevu was arrested and interviewed under caution at the Totogo Police Station on December 15, 2018. During his interview, Lagilevu gave a false name to the interviewing officer. When the officer took a break, Lagilevu escaped from the station. He was re-arrested on December 23, 2018.

Plea:

Upon arraignment on May 23, 2019, Lagilevu pleaded guilty to escaping from lawful custody and giving false information to a public servant. However, he pleaded not guilty to the charges of rape and sexual assault.

On March 6, 2020, Lagilevu was sentenced to 11 and half years imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years by the High Court in Lautoka after he pleaded guilty to the charges of rape and assault with intent to commit rape.

He then changed his plea to guilty to the charges of rape and sexual assault in this case after he was sentenced by the court in Lautoka.

Judge’s comments:

Justice Goundar said the aggravating factors were that the offences were committed with planning and deceit to gain the trust of the victim.

He said the victim was threatened with death during the incident.

“The victim was physically and emotionally traumatised by the incident. The criminality continued after Lagilevu was arrested for rape and sexual assault.

“He gave a false name to a Police officer and escaped from lawful custody to evade justice.”

Habitual offender:

Prosecutor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had sought the court to declare Lagilevu as a habitual offender for the purpose of sentence.

The state had highlighted that Lagilevu had 20 previous convictions since 2007 and most of his convictions were for robbery or theft offences except one for indecently assaulting a female in 2011.

In his sentence, before Justice Goundar declared Lagilevu as a habitual offender, he mentioned that the offender had witnessed family violence and claimed himself as a victim of sexual abuse when he was a child.

Lagilevu had claimed that his criminal behaviour was linked to the trauma he had suffered while growing up.

Justice Goundar said taking all the matters into account, Lagilevu was convicted and declared as a habitual offender.

Sentence:

He was then sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the offence of rape, two years imprisonment for the offence of sexual assault, six months imprisonment for the offence of escaping from lawful custody and 12 months imprisonment for the offence of giving false information to a public servant.

Justice Goundar said all the four terms of imprisonment were made concurrent.

The total sentence was 12 years imprisonment, Justice Goundar said.

He further added that if he made the sentence consecutive with the sentence of the High Court in Lautoka, the total sentence would be 23 years and six months imprisonment.

“Such a long sentence may have a crushing effect on the offender and may offend the totality principle,” he said.

“To achieve a just and proportionate sentence, I order that of the 12 years imprisonment, seven and half years to be served concurrently and four and half years to be served consecutively.

“The total sentence now is 16 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 years,” Justice Goundar ordered.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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