Supreme Court hands down multiple verdicts in “difficult and sad” sexual assault case

'Oku 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

The Supreme Court has handed down guilty sentences to a mother and stepfather for sexually abusing the woman’s daughters.

The couple appeared before Hon. Justice Cato.

“Cases involving sexual offending on young people are taken very seriously by the Courts and are of the utmost importance,” Hon. Justice Cato said.

“They are often difficult and sad cases to  try.”

The two girls were 14 and 16 when the assaults occurred.

Their mother had divorced and in 2016 the man who became their stepfather moved in with her.

The sexual abuse began in early 2017.

The judge found that on several occasions, including an incident of rape, the girls’ mother had helped the man.

The man was found guilty of one count of rape, six counts of serious indecent assault, two charges of indecent exposure and five charges of domestic violence.

The woman was found guilty of one charge of aiding rape, four counts of aiding serious indecent assault, one count of domestic violence and one of common assault.

In his summing up, Judge Cato said he found the daughters to be reliable witnesses.

He said the court had heard “very serious allegations that not only involved serious sexual misconduct by the male accused but also involved unusually knowing assistance in some instances by their mother.”

“I had the opportunity of regarding them very closely when they were giving their evidence and I was impressed with their evidence, both giving testimony in very difficult circumstances. I did not detect that either were evasive in their answers.”

The judge said he rejected several aspects of their mother’s testimony.

“I do not accept the reliability of the testimony of either accused  as it  relates  to their innocence,” the judge said.

“Where their evidence conflicts with the complainants, I prefer and act upon the  evidence  of the complainants beyond any reasonable  doubt.”

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