A HONIARA magistrate has again refused another bail application made for One Link Pacifica boss Gerrad Tauohu.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea refused the bail after he was not convinced the grounds relied upon by Gerrad Tauohu in this subsequent bail application amount to exceptional circumstances.
“In the exercise of my discretion, the application for bail is again refused,” Iomea said in his ruling yesterday.
Tauohu is facing 39 counts of false pretence contrary to section 308 (a) of the Penal Code [Cap. 26] and one account of Unlicensed Financial Institution prohibited contrary to section 3(2) (a) of the Financial Institution Act.
He had applied for bail in May this year but the bail was refused by Iomea.
His lawyer then applied for bail before the High Court but a high court judge, however, was of the view that Tauohu should first appeal the first bail ruling before applying for bail at the High Court.
Following that, Tauohu and his lawyer then lodged another bail application before the Honiara Magistrate’s Court.
Two of six grounds defence relied on for bail are, that Tauohu’s wife and children had been suffering in the village and that there is a weak crown case as the defence is concerned.
Prosecution on the other hand has strongly objected this second bail application.
Public Prosecutor Jonathan Auga submitted that there is no change in circumstances regarding the case or the accused would warrant granting of bail.
Iomea in his ruling said it is well-settled principle, ingrained in common law that in a subsequent bail application, the applicant must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that there is a material change in the circumstances regarding himself and or of the case since the last application was refused.
He said one of the factors which were of concern to the court and one of the basis for refusing Tauohu’s first bail application was of his safety.
“The applicant (Tauohu) and the proposed sureties now averred in their Sworn Statements in support of this present application that the applicant’s security is well guaranteed.
“It is clear that the allegation against the accused involves huge amounts of money allegedly invested by the complainants in the Scheme which are still at large and to which they will be seeking answers and explanations from the applicant,” Iomea further added.
Iomea said he noted from the Applicant’s (Tauohu) Sworn Statement that he is worried about his family because they were being scorned by people.
“He said that his wife and children had to be moved to a separate village because of the treatment his family received.
“In my view, this implies that the people were and are not happy with his family and this is all because of the allegations against the applicant.”
Iomea said in these circumstances, he is still not satisfied, even on the assurance by Tauohu and those who filed their sworn statements in support of his application.
He said the possibility that Tauohu may be confronted by angry investors in the scheme when he is out on bail cannot be ruled out at this stage.
“If this happens and not handled properly, the possibility that he may try to avoid any disgruntled investor is likely and may lead to avoiding coming to court to answer the charges.”
Another ground of change of circumstances Tauohu relied on his the condition at Rove Correctional Centre as not conducive for him in preparation for his trial.
Iomea however did not consider this ground and also not satisfied with the letter from a Correctional Officer regarding Tauohu’s mental and physical health.
He said it would be more reliable for consideration if the view comes from a medical practitioner or an experienced registered nurse.
Iomea also said Tauohu’s Sworn Statement and others in support of his application contained some arguments, denials of the allegations and submissions which are inadmissible as far as the rule of evidence in Sworn Statements is concerned.
Having not being satisfied with the grounds submitted by Tauohu to constitute a change of circumstances to warrant bail he refused bail.
Tauohu is facing allegations relating to complaints made from five mentors involving more than $461,000 between December 2019 and February 2020.
It was alleged the mentors gave the money to the accused but he had failed to repay the money with its interest.
The money belongs to One Link’s customers.
Tauohu then escaped to Malaita without repaying the money.
Police, however, arrested him after receiving complaints from the scheme’s mentors and customers who had invested in the scheme but are yet to receive their payments.
One link Pacifica customers had allegedly invested a total of $56,440, 4575 in the scheme but police had only managed to recover $336,891.20.
Rodgers Tovosia of DNS & Partners who represents Tauohu.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN