Charge raises major concern

National

Failure by police to distinguish between a serious sexual offence against a child and an ordinary exposure case raises great concern, a magistrate said yesterday.
“It is disheartening to know that the police arresting  officer Constable Russel Hamgo, based at Boroko Police Station, one who investigated the matter, was not able to distinguish between a serious sexual offence against a child and an ordinary exposure case.” Boroko District Court Magistrate Tracey Ganai said.
Ganai told the court yesterday that the case involved Junior David Unagi, charged with intentionally exposing his private parts in a public place to a 10-year old girl on Oct 6.
Ganai said the matter was brought under the serious offence Act but had all the hallmarks and elements of a sexual offence provided under the Sexual Offences and Crimes against Children Act (SOCACA) of 2002.
Unagi was found guilty in a trial on Tuesday and convicted for exposing his private part to the victim.
The court heard Unagi was known to the victim as her uncle and last month he pulled his trousers and exposed his “balls” as in the victim’s evidence.
The court heard there were a lot of aggravating factors against Unagi and the only mitigating factor was that he had no prior conviction.
Ganai said the police prosecutor too did not properly inform the court of the kind of case that was before the court during the arraignment and pre-trial and the court had no idea that the case involved a child.
“This did not occur, hence in my view, this case would have been rightly brought to the committal court and to the National Court for a trial,” Ganai said.
“It was dealt with under the SOA.
“In my view, the punishment under the SOA is less severe and the circumstances of this case are serious with more aggravating features outweighing the mitigations.”
Ganai said Unagi would be given a lighter punishment, one month in prison or K50 fine,  and so sentenced him to a month in jail with light labour.
The victim lives with her parents in a room  her father rented from Unagi’s parents.

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