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Samoa's ex-Fire Chief handed suspended sentence

Family of Seve Tony Hill cried and hugged after the former Fire Commissioner was given a suspended sentence yesterday on charges of indecent assault.The defendant received a suspended sentence of two years and 200 hours of community service, to be completed within six months.It was an emotional day for the Hill family, waiting for Judge Mata Tuatagaloa to hand down her decision.Seve, 57, had been remanded in custody for seven days after he was found guilty of indecent assault last week, in a case involving him touching the breasts of a co-worker and suggesting they had an affair.An application for bail earlier this week had been denied by the court, raising fears among family and supporters about the sentence that Seve might face.Defence lawyer Patrick Fepuleai told the court that he did not intend to deal with everything in the probation report, he just wanted to mention the usual matters.He highlighted the fact that the victim filed her complaint some five years after the assault despite having an opportunity to file the complaint at the time when they arrived back at the office on the day of the indecent assault.He also submitted that the court should consider the nature of the assault, and previous cases of a similar nature.A former assistant Police Commissioner, Moto’otua Tiatia, was convicted in 2010 of a similar assault against another police officer, receiving a suspended sentence and $250 fine.He also said that there were 36 supporting letters before the court, some of which they had requested others to submit, while the rest were from people who knew Mr. Hill and decided to submit a letter to support him in this matter.Mr Hill is a deacon in their church, and a business man, before he became a volunteer for Fire and Emergency, later becoming the Commissioner.