9 Sep 2011

Cook Islands rapist gets five year sentence

6:50 pm on 9 September 2011

A Cook Islander who raped an 11-year-old girl, impregnating her, has been jailed for five and a half years.

To protect the identity of the rape victim, her relationship to the accused and his name are suppressed.

The victim and her daughter - a product of the rape - now live in Australia with a female relative.

The convicted rapist, a 31-year-old builder from Mangaia, was sentenced in the Cook Islands High Court yesterday (Friday NZ time).

Our correspondent reports that Chief Justice Tom Weston had wanted to impose a longer term of imprisonment but was somewhat restricted by Cook Islands case law, which he says is significantly behind that of New Zealand.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Evans told the court that child abuse is a serious issue in the Cook Islands but the community is only now accepting that.

Chief Justice Weston warned that a five-year sentence for rape may be regarded as lenient and he suspects that in future cases there may be greater terms of imprisonment for such crime.