Thief jailed for stealing tools from shed

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Repeat offender Hateni Kaufusi (35) was sentenced to 34 months in prison for aggravated burglary and theft of tool shed items valued at $11,840. His co-accused Kulikefu Vanisi (54) received a suspended sentence for complicity.

Lord Chief Justice Whitten K.C. sentenced them on October 14 in the Supreme Court of Nuku’alofa.

Hateni pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and theft. Kulikefu changed his guilty plea to accessory to theft.

The particulars of the offense were that on January 2, 2022, the complainant was at her home in Halaleva. Around 6:00 p.m., she went out to her vehicle. Jhere, she saw a taxi back up and park right outside the entrance to her residence. When the applicant returned home, she was able to hear people conversing in Tongan from her neighbour’s house, even though she is of Chinese nationality. This made her suspicious.

“So the Complainant approached and stood next to a water tank outside the residence. She saw a man with tattoos on the left side of his face lean over his fence from his neighbor’s residence to grab some tools. The complainant yelled at her husband that there was a thief.

“The man quickly gathered the tools and ran towards the taxi, which then sped off the scene. The complainant identified the license plate of the vehicle, contacted the police and filed a complaint. The complainant identified the stolen items from his tool shed as having an estimated value of $11,840.

The police traced the vehicle’s registration as belonging to Kulikefu.

The court heard that on the day of the offense he drank alcohol with Hateni in Fasi. The two went to Kahana Lagoon Resort for Hateni to buy cigarettes.

Kulikefu saw Hateni running back from the plaintiff’s residence holding a bag. He also heard a woman scream. Hateni got into the car with the bag. Kulikefu suspected the bag contained stolen items but decided to leave. He dropped off Hateni with the bag at Pili and went home.

Kulikefu was arrested and taken for questioning and on January 7, 2022, he informed the police that it was Hateni who stole the tools.

Hateni admitted the offence. He also told police that the stolen goods were taken to Ha’akame and sold to a certain Viliami Tu’ikupau for $200.

On January 24 this year, police conducted a search of Viliami’s home in accordance with the warrant, where they recovered most of the stolen items.

Previous convictions

Hateni has numerous prior convictions for similar offences, assault and manslaughter.

The Lord Chief Justice sentenced Hateni to 2 years and 10 months (or 34 months) imprisonment.

However, he committed this offense during a period of ineligibility for another proceeding.

“He was released from prison with a partially suspended sentence in proceedings on November 3, 2020. As the offense in question was committed during the 2-year suspension period, this suspension was quashed and the unserved portion of this two-year sentence was added to the main sentence above, making a total sentence of 4 years and 10 months (or 58 months) imprisonment.

The final 12 months were then suspended for two years on conditions, the Lord Chief Justice ordered.

Incentive

Kulikefu was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for one year under conditions.

“Although he has previous criminal convictions, none of them are property related and most are quite old. I’m ready to accept his version that he did not know in advance Hateni’s the intention to commit the theft and, therefore, in the case of Kulikefu, there was no premeditation. It follows that his role in the offense in driving Hateni home was relatively minor. Kulikefu cooperated fully with the authorities and directly assisted in Hateni’s Stop. I am confident he is likely to benefit from a suspended sentence as an incentive and deterrent against any future offending,” the Lord Chief Justice said.

“Both defendants are advised that failure to comply with any of the above conditions may result in the suspension being revoked, in which case the defaulting defendant will be required to serve the remainder of their sentence.”


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