Justice Elizabeth Aitken cautions prison authorities to review rules & policies on releasing prisoners

Justice Elizabeth Aitken

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA: FRIDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2015:  Supreme Court Judge, Justice Elizabeth Aitken has cautioned prison authorities to look at reviewing rules and policies for releasing prisoners in order to ensure public safety and curb prisoners re-offending.

The statement was made yesterday during the hearing of prisoner Vaioleti Stowers case where Her Honor described Vaioleti as an “extraordinary” case due to the freedom she had of being at many places when she was supposed to be  behind bars.

This was after the Court heard that the charges against Stowers happened at several places in town at the time she was serving time at Tafa’igata prison.

“She seems to be everywhere and its extraordinary,” said Justice Aitken.

“The prison should carefully review  the rules which permits the release of prisoners outside,” she said.

She then convicted Stowers on 9 charges of theft  and bribery saying this will send out a clear message that it was unsuitable to release her again. She has also ordered a probation report  and a victims impact report  before sentencing Stowers on 16 December 2015.

Stowers was convicted on 9 charges against her after she vacated her not guilty plea with a guilty  plea in Court today.

She is serving time on various offences, originally denied the 9 charges when the matter was first mentioned in March this year, however, she changed that plea when she appeared before Justice Elizabeth Aitken yesterday.

The charges includes  7 for theft and 2 for bribery with intent to influence the law enforcement officer.

According to Prosecutions information, the theft charges revolves around the 6 vehicles Stowers and partner   of New Zealander Grant Holland rented from two car  rental companies Samoana and National Car Rentals.

The 3 vehicles from NCR and 3 from Samoana were later sold out to several buyers on different prices for which they received  almost $200,000 from it.

On the bribery charges, she gave police officers money  with the “intent to influence the law enforcement.”

Justice Aitken’s statement is supported by police Superintendent Su’a Muliaga Tiumalu.

He said prisoner’s escaping from prison is different from prisoners given the liberty to  leave prison.

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