In Court with Assumpta Buchanan - Solomon Star News

In Court with Assumpta Buchanan

08 August 2018

* Jailed for unruly behaviour, damaging properties
* Double murder trial defers to today
* Closing sub next on Sikua’s case

Jailed for unruly behaviour, damaging properties

A Honiara Magistrate has told a man who damaged the houses of two women at night while drunk with kwaso and then swore at them and the police that his action is that of stupidity and silliness at its highest.

Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga made this comment when sentencing Ben Baleou to a total of six months imprisonment this week in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court.

“The court needs to send a right deterrent message to discourage this unruly and disorderly behaviour in our town and the country as a whole so that people would live in a peace and safer environment,” Mr Aulanga said.

Mr Aulanga said nowadays such untoward attitude displayed by the accused herein has no place in our homes and residential places whether it be in the rural or urban areas.

“The public at large is sick and tired of this and to impose a non-custodial sentence in light of the prevalence of this offending in my view is a complete joke.

“The circumstance and the manner in which the offences were committed are so serious.

“This offending involves stone throwing accompanied by uttering of swearing words towards the complainants who were preforming a public duty to get rid of the accused for his unwanted and disorderly behaviours the material time.

“Although I take into account that he had committed the offences because of consumption of liquor, I will not condone this nonsensical type of attitude.

“He cannot cover under the cloak or veil of liquor to minimise his culpability,” Mr Aulanga added.

He said if Baleou consumes liquor and decides to commit a crime then he must be prepared to face the consequence and be part of the solution as well.

“That is the corresponding duty and expectation that not only him but others who are minded to commit any crime when consuming liquor must seriously take into account,” Mr Aulanga said.

Ben Baleou had pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal trespass, one count each of threatening violence, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour and wilful and unlawful damage.

The incident occurred at Riffle Range, West Honiara on 12 July 2018 at about 11.15pm when Baleou was drunk with kwaso.

The court had heard that Baleou was moving around Riffle Range area at that time and out of nowhere he picked up a stone and hit the walling of a house occupied by the first complainant Ms Tari.

She woke up and when she asked the accused why he shot her house, the accused did not respond and just walked away.

He later returned to the same house and pulled out a lighting bulb and started to throw away the chairs in an aggressive manner.

He then damaged the Masonite walling of that house and at the same time swore at the complainant before walking away to the main road.

The second complainant Emily having heard the disturbance and went to the accused and asked him about the stoning of Tari’s house.

Baleou instead entered into Emily’s residential area, picked up stones and shot at her house several times.

This also damaged a Masonite walling of her dwelling house.

She then asked him to leave her area because of his disorderly behaviour or otherwise she would report him to police.

Having heard what Emily told him, he told her he did not worry about the police and then swore at Emily and at the police.

Mr Aulanga said the accused was so drunk when he committed the offences against two complainants.

“He used stones and threw them over residential houses resulting in the damage of the Masonite of the houses occupied by the complainants.

“These were done repetitively.

“He repeatedly uttered swearing words that were so disrespectful and offensive to the families of the complainants.”

Mr Aulanga said those words also disrespected and defamed the police authority.

He said by uttering them loudly that night, he also intended to humiliate and degrade the two female complainants.

“…..and these offences occurred at night and as the facts revealed, towards the midnight which is an odd hour of the night.”

Double murder trial defers to today

TRIAL into the double murder of a Chinese business couple at their shop at Town Ground, west Honiara, in April last year has been further deferred to this morning.

The short adjournment was sought to give time to the defence lawyers to consult their clients, Raymond Keota and Jimson Goufi.

The court had heard yesterday that the lawyers representing the two accused had just received some new documents from the prosecution late on Monday evening.

They, therefore need time to consult with their clients before the trial can start before Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer.

Trial into this matter was scheduled to start on Monday and run for two weeks.

However, the trial however did not start on Monday as some document in relation to this matter needs to be sorted out first.

The trial was then moved to yesterday where the defence asked for more time given that prosecution had just served them with new documents late on Monday evening.

The new documents are still images from the CCTV and further sets of album.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Ronald Bei Talasasa also informed the court that they have reduced the number of witnesses to be called in the trial from 35 to 14.

He said following discussions they had on Monday, they will be tendering by consent 25 witnesses’ statements.

Mr Talasasa said nine of those witnesses are ready to testify while the other five are still at large in north Malaita.

He added that they will make an application when the time comes, but in the meantime attempts are being made to locate those five witnesses.

The DPP have also indicated they might proceed with a voir dire (trial within in a trial) hearing first, before the trial proper starts.

One of the accused is contesting his admission in his record of interview with the police.

That will be confirmed in court today.

Mr Talasasa said the trial proper will start with the evidence of an IT person that broke into the system and extracted footages of the CCTV.

Two screens were also set up in the court room one purposely to screen the CCTV footage during the trial.

Goufi and Keota are facing the double murder of the Chinese couple on 15 April last year during the Easter weekend.

Prosecution alleged Goufi who was the couple’s security let Keota inside the shop on that evening of the alleged offending.

As soon as he entered the building, Keota allegedly pulled out a long bush knife and struck Gong Zhen Lao (husband) who was busy with business papers.

Keota then allegedly went and got hold of the same bush knife and repeatedly struck the victim which landed the victim on the floor.

Prosecution also alleged Keota attacked Lao’s wife with a kitchen knife when she came out from the kitchen to check on her husband after hearing noises. 

He allegedly wounded her throat with the kitchen knife.

When she was no longer breathing, both accused then allegedly helped themselves looting money from the shop cashier and bottle shop, packed it in a school bag before exiting the building.

The following morning Goufi and other female workers of the shop went to work and discovered the couple were dead.

Police alleged it was Goufi who climbed the fence and went into the building and upon his return informed the female workers the couple were lying dead inside the shop.

 Both accused then allegedly escaped to Malaita with large amounts of cash after the alleged killing.

Goufi first escaped from police in Malaita but then surrendered on 15 May last year while Keota was arrested on 21 May last year.

Deputy Public Solicitor George Gray and Public Solicitor’s lawyer Michael Holara are representing the two accused.

Assisting the DPP are Public Prosecutors Margaret Suifa’asia and John Wesley Zoze.


Closing sub next on Sikua’s case

CLOSING submissions will be made on the case of the former permanent secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Edmond Sikua who faces official corruption charges on August 30.

This followed the completion of the trial into Sikua’s case last Friday in the Honiara Magistrates’ court.

Public prosecutor Bradley Dalipanda and Sikua’s lawyer Gabriel Suri, of Suri’s Law Practice will be presenting their closing submissions before Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi.

Ms Taeburi will then go through the closing submissions before deciding on Sikua’s fate.

Prosecution had called a total of 16 witnesses over the course of the Crown’s case while Sikua defended himself in the defence case.

Sikua is facing seven counts of official corruption.

This was in relation to allegations he awarded government tenders worth $630,436.50 to Beeds Investment on 22 December 2016, a company registered and owned by his two daughters.

Prosecution alleged that as permanent secretary, Sikua is by default the chairman of his ministry’s tender board.

It was alleged that between 18 December 2015 and 29 August 2016 Beeds Investments responded to calls for tenders and was awarded business contracts for service delivery to the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services on seven different occasions.

The Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services have made payments of $630,436.50 to Beeds Investments for these services.

Prosecution further alleged that, Sikua used his position of power and influence within the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services to manipulate the tendering process for his own and his family’s pecuniary advantage.

Sikua is the third public officer to have been arrested by Janus since the establishment of the joint taskforce in August 2016.