$27K for damaging MP’s vehicles - Solomon Star News

$27K for damaging MP’s vehicles

18 September 2020
Two of the vehicles damaged by the seven men.

SEVEN men who damaged three vehicles belonging to North Malaita MP Senley Fiualea at his Honiara residence last November have been fined a total of $27,000.

Principal Magistrate Tearo Beneteti has imposed various fines to each of the men based on their age and past conviction.

The incident happened on 30 November 2019 at Fiualea’s residence at Kombevatu, Honiara.

Beneteti said the defendants who to certain extent pre-planned to commit the offending, criminally trespassed onto the victim’s private residence and damaged three vehicles valued at $107,480.00.

She said there was pre-planning involved in this offence, group offending, serious damages resulted from the offending amounting to more than $100,000.00, weapons were used to commit the offence and it was an unprovoked attack done to a certain extent.

She added that the risk to human life and properties at the time of the offending was substantial and heavily considered as well.

“Furthermore the place of offence was a family home and during the offending some members of the family were asleep while others watched in fear and silence which may have highly traumatized some of them.”

Beneteti said another form of aggravating factor would be the loss of enjoyment derived from the use of the 3 vehicles damaged during the offence. 

“This loss of enjoyment by the Victim is detrimental to him and makes this offence serious in that light.

“Furthermore the vehicle parts to repair the damaged vehicles are not available in country and the current pandemic we are endeavoring in is affecting this.

“I therefore still consider this as aggravating to a certain degree,” Beneteti further added.

She also took into the accused’s favour their guilty pleas, genuine remorse, that reconciliation and compensation had actually offset the actual damage sustained and that relationship between the two parties had since been restored and resolved.

This resulted in the victim expressing his wish to withdraw the matter in March.

The men were sentenced after pleading guilty to the charges of criminal trespass and wilful and unlawful damage.

Two juveniles aged 17 were each fined $800 for the criminal trespass and $3,000 for the wilful and unlawful damage.

Chris Lusibaea, 19, George Lusibaea 23, Arnold Emerald, 24, and Iki Olomea 34 were each fined $1,000 for the criminal trespass and $4,000 for the second charge.

For Simone Safusi, he received a fine of $1,200 for the criminal trespass and $5,000 for the second charge.

He received the highest sentence because he is a repeated offender.

In total, all accused will be paying $27,000 to the state.

Beneteti said after considering the mitigating and aggravating factor that a fine is most suitable for this offence.

She said she had deliberated on other penalties like imprisonment but the difficulty she had with this penalty is that all accused except Safusi are first time offenders.

She said they also made guilty plea, are remorseful and most are young with two juveniles and other sin early 20’s and only one over the age of 30.

“More significantly, the amount paid for compensation and reconciliation is peculiar in that it actually offsets the damage incurred from the offending.”

Beneteti also noted that all accused engage in different but useful activities like studying and working.

“Through imposing a fine and in default imprisonment, the State can get significant finance towards increasing its revenue from the defendants to pay off for breaching the laws as found in their cases.

“If imprisoned, the obvious penalty on them would be their freedom of movement being taken away and other relevant ones like having to have loved ones around and so forth.

“Furthermore the State would be additionally burdened to carter for their accommodation and all their needs in the prison (food, accommodation and other toiletry needs and rehabilitative activities),” Beneteti said.

Tearo said she could not find any other forms of penalty being appropriate as Filualea had already expressed his wish to withdraw the case as he was satisfied with the compensation paid by the defendant’s caretaker Jimmy Lusibaea.

All accused have until September 24 to pay the fine.

Failure to pay the fine will result in them serving their default imprisonment term ranging from six to eleven months.

A check to the magistrate’s court confirmed they have already paid the fine yesterday.

Private lawyer John Taupongi represents all accused while Public Prosecutor Jonathan Lui Auga appeared for the Crown.

Honiara, Newsroom