Jury hears conflicting statements from prosecution witnesses
The jury trial of the businessman charged with attempted sexually assault of a 13-year-old schoolboy continues in the High Court.
The defense called a number of witnesses including the victim, his teacher, the responding police officer and two residents of the Mt. Logotala area. The witnesses remembered the incident differently.
The 15-year-old victim who was 13 years old at the time of the alleged incident was the first government witness to take the stand. He was in Grade 8 when the alleged incident happened, and now he’s in Grade 10 at one of the government high schools.
In his own words, the alleged victim stated that while he was waiting for a bus to go to school, a green pickup truck came and stopped in front of him. The driver then asked him if he needed a “lift” to school. He responded yes - and he then jumped inside the vehicle and off they went. The victim recalled what he was wearing on that day — it was Christmas season and he wore his class Christmas uniform of light green elei with designs and a Santa Claus hat.
Prosecutor Robert Morris asked the alleged victim if he would recognize the driver if he saw him again and the boy replied yes and pointed him out to the jury, without looking at him. He was sitting next to his defense attorney, Marcellus T. Uiagalelei at the defense table.
In continuing with his testimony, the alleged victim explained that he was waiting for a bus to go school at the three-corner intersection in Vaitogi. The defendant’s vehicle came from west heading east. After he jumped inside the vehicle, the defendant made a U-turn in front of an Asian store next to the Iakina Adventist Academy and headed back to the direction where he came from.
“When the vehicle passed the school, I then asked the driver (defendant) where are we going, and he told me we’re heading to Vaitogi, but I told him I want to go to school,” the alleged victim recalled.
“The vehicle was moving at a high speed and when it reached the location where the Iliili CCCAS temple is, the driver then opened his pants and showed me his private parts. I tried to open the door so I could jump out of the vehicle, but the vehicle was moving too fast. The driver then tried to force me to touch his private parts, but I refused.”
“Did you see his private parts?” Morris asked him. The boy broke down in tears and responded, “Yes.”
“Do you remember what the defendant said to you?” asked Morris. The alleged victim responded, “He said to touch him and all the while the vehicle continued to move fast on the road.”
The vehicle headed to Vaitogi, and then continued on to a dead-end road that goes up to Mt. Logotala. The vehicle continued to move in a high speed, and the alleged victim told the jurors that all he was thinking at that time was “car crash.”
“When the vehicle was parked, he tried to force me again to touch his private parts, but I refused,” the alleged victim recalled.
“Did you want to touch his private parts?” Morris asked the him. The boy broke down into tears again and responded, “No ... and then I told him I want to go to school.”
“I tried to open the door, but I couldn’t. I then asked him to please open the door for me, and when he opened the door, I jumped out of the vehicle and started walking down away from him because I was so scared.”
“While I was walking down, I heard the vehicle engine was on. I looked back and saw the vehicle was moving, and then I took off my shoes and started running down the mountain hoping that I would reach the main road before he got back to me.”
“When I reached the main road, the vehicle came and stopped in front of me, and he told me to get inside so that he could drop me at the school. I did what he said because I was afraid that he might do something to hurt me like hitting me with his vehicle.”
The defendant dropped the alleged victim in front of a store opposite the school.
“Before I left the vehicle, he gave me $2 without saying anything to me. I took the $2 I don’t know why — then I closed the door. When the vehicle went off, I looked at the back of the vehicle and memorized the plate number, so that I could report it to the police.”
The alleged victim told the jurors that the first thing he did when he entered the school was to tell his teacher and other teachers who were there with her that morning. He also explained to other students inside the classroom the dramatic ordeal he faced that morning. He said that he told police everything that had happened on that morning.
The boy said that he went with the police to show them the area where the alleged incident happened, and that is where the police found his Santa Claus hat he was wearing on that morning.
OTHER PROSECUTION WITNESSES
The boy’s teacher who was one of the government witnesses told a different story.
She told the jury that on the morning of the alleged incident, the alleged victim told her that while he was waiting for a bus on the road, the defendant’s vehicle came and stopped in front of him. The defendant offered him a ride, but he refused. The defendant then got out of his vehicle grabbed him into the vehicle and they went to Mt. Logotala.
The teacher also testified that the alleged victim told her that when he got out of the defendant’s vehicle on the Mt. Logotala, he then ran all the way from the mountain to the school campus.
Two other government’s witnesses who live near the road that goes up to Mt. Logotala testified that they both saw a green pick-up around 6 a.m. heading up the mountain. One witness testified that the vehicle was moving very fast while the other testified that the vehicle wasn’t moving very fast.
DEFENDANT TAKES THE STAND
On the witness stand, Singh, in his words, admitted to the jury that he did offer a ride to the young boy who was waiting on the road for a bus on a raining morning, but denied all the accusations of sexual activity the government claimed.
He testified that his children were late to school that morning because he wanted to offer his help to the little boy. He said he usually offers help to other people around their neighborhood, but this was the first time he had offered help to this little boy he didn’t know.
He also testified that he gave the $2 to the little boy not to calm him down but because he kept asking him for money to buy “sushi and soda.”
Singh told the jury that his vehicle never went up to the deadend road to Mt. Logotala, but he dropped the boy at school around 7:20 a.m. before heading back home to pick up his children and drop them at their school.
Both sides rested yesterday and closing arguments were presented, after which the court said it would deliver final instructions to the jury this morning at 10 a.m. before the jury begins deliberation.
Samoa News will summarize closing arguments in tomorrow’s edition.