Convicted woman could apply to serve sentence in New Zealand

The 33 year old Punaotala Sakai

APIA: A New Zealand citizen who has been convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for theft as a servant on Monday this week can apply to serve her prison sentence in New Zealand.

She is Punaotala Sakai, 33 years old from Salelavalu, Savai’i.

Punaotala was arrested 28 March and remanded in custody the next day after a warrant of arrest was issued by Justice Slicer on the 16 January this year.

“I know and have accepted that I am serving time,” she said. She asked whether she could be deported back to New Zealand to serve her sentence.

Justice Pierre Slicer stated that the Court has no jurisdiction to deport her back to New Zealand but she could make an application to serve her sentence in New Zealand under a legislation passed in parliament called the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 2009.

The sentence was initially 3 years but reduced to two years to make it easier for Immigration Authorities to deport her more quickly.

The defendant is said to have made contact with the complainant, Mr Dennis Smith but there had been no reconciliation after she had approached him twice.

“I’m sorry for what happened,” she said.

The complainant however has said that this was not true. Her former employer’s description of the defendant in the Victim Impact Report says “She ‘plays at life’ treating theft, fraud and lies as a game without an ounce  of reality.”

According to the summary of facts the Defendant stole  property valued at $5,230 while she was employed a General Manager of the complainant’s company Gold Tick Services Limited. Her co-defendant and former partner Masetoni Isaako was sentenced on the 16th January to nine months imprisonment for his part in the theft. Punaotala was left in charge of the company by her former employer while in New Zealand for treatment only to return to find out he had been betrayed and properties had been stolen by the Defendant and her co-defendant.

Police records show that Punaotala has no previous convictions but the Prosecutor Leinafo Taimalelagi pointed out that there are several warrants and convictions for her in New Zealand.

Her records begins from 1997 which includes convictions of four thefts, 55 document fraud, nine obtaining financial benefit by deception, two breach supervision orders, one breach of conditions of detention, one breach of community work orders, three breach of bail.

She has three children and arrangements have been made for them to be taken care of while she is serving her prison sentence.

Separate charges: Punaotala also appeared for two separate charges of theft and obtaining credit by fraud (false pretense) in the District Court yesterday. She pleaded guilty to both counts of theft and not guilty to the charge of obtaining credit by fraud.

Judge Mata Tuatagaloa adjourned sentencing on the charges she has pleaded guilty to 4 July. The hearing of the charge of obtaining credit by fraud which she pleaded not guilty to will be heard 3 August. A victim impact report and probation report have been requested to determine her sentence.

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