Court says it saw the nightmare the people of Vaitogi were facing
A young man who was arrested earlier this year — while on probation — and charged with first-degree burglary and felony stealing is going to prison.
Siaosi Ieremia, 23, of Vaitogi will serve a straight sentence of 15 years imprisonment as ordered by the High Court last week, after he was convicted of two felonies — first-degree burglary and stealing. Because of these charges, Ieremia was also found guilty of violating conditions of a 5-year probation sentence, which was handed down 3 years ago for stealing.
During sentencing, Ieremia apologized to the Court for his actions and begged for a second chance to return home to care for his parents and serve his family. He also apologized to the victims and asked for their forgiveness.
Ieremia said he is truly remorseful for what he did, and assured the judge that he will never break any laws, adding that if he is given another chance, he will do everything he can to change his life and look for a job, so he can pay restitution.
“What happened to the first chance the Court gave you when you were sentenced to 5 years probation in 2014?" Acting Associate Justice Elvis P. Patea asked the defendant.
Ieremia replied, “Your Honor, I messed up and I was trying my best to abide by the laws but I failed.”
He was silent when Patea said, “So now you ask for a second chance, but if you fail again and mess up, what will be your next excuse to the Court?"
The defendant’s attorney, Public Defender Michael White asked the Court for leniency, to give Ieremia a probated sentence so he can change and prove himself.
White stated that after spending over 8 months behind bars, Ieremia has learned his lesson and realized that prison is not a good place for him; that he needs to move on with his life.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Morris supported the request for a probated sentence but under special conditions, which include some jail time and restitution.
Morris told the Court that the defendant deserved jail time, because not only did he disobey a Court order — to stay clean and not break any laws — he also stole from others.
Patea told Ieremia that because he failed to comply with conditions of his probation, ordered by the Court 3 years ago, the Court believes that prison is the only suitable place for him to learn a good lesson.
“The Court was able to review all the information on this case, and listened carefully to attorney submissions and your pleas for another chance. And even though your attorney echoed your request for another chance, and a probated sentence, the Court feels that jail is the only option for you at this time,” Patea said, adding that the Court had granted chances to Ieremia in the past, "and given the facts of your new cases, the Court sees the nightmare that the people of Vaitogi were facing, especially when you walked around the village and took away property" belonging to families.
Patea told the defendant that the Court does not tolerate this kind of behavior and a straight sentence is the only answer to his problem.
“Think about your future and what is best for you while you’re in prison. If you think you really need to go back home to take care of your parents and serve your family, then you must change your lifestyle and prove to us that you can change your life,” Patea advised.
In 2014, Ieremia was convicted of felony stealing and was sentenced to 5 years in jail. However, execution of the sentence was suspended and Ieremia was placed on 5 years probation, but ordered to serve 20 months in jail.
Earlier this year, while on probation, Ieremia was charged with first-degree burglary and stealing, both felonies.
For the charge of first-degree burglary, the Court gave him a straight sentence of 15 years imprisonment. For the charge of felony stealing, Ieremia received a straight sentence of 7 years in jail, and the two are to be served concurrently, but will run consecutively with the remainder of the initial 5-year prison term that was handed down back in 2014, as he violated conditions of his probation. (This means he will serve another 3 years on top of the 15 years for the current offenses.)
He was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,449.42 to the Court, to compensate the families whose property he stole.
“The only help from the Court is to put you in jail for a long time to ensure that you are no longer around in the village to cause trouble for the families there. You were given another chance when you were sentenced the first time, and it appears that you still need more time in jail to straighten up your life and rethink your future,” Patea said.