A 22-year-old man who ­raped a 7-year-old girl has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Petuliki Lave pleaded guilty before Lord Chief Justice Owen Paulsen on May 17 after he committed the crime on 17 November 2016.

The court was told Lave took the child by force and led her to a nearby bush area near her home before he raped her despite her crying out in pain and said she wanted to go home.

Lave told her to wait until he finished. He finally took her back to her house.

The victim’s mother noticed her missing and her younger child pointed to the bush area. Police were called and Lave was arrested.

Justice Paulsen said: “It is the Court’s duty to protect children from this kind of conduct”.

He said the victim was only 7 and she had been “distressed” and “seems to be very adversely affected in her academic performance at school”.

“She seems to have distanced herself from others and become reclusive”.

Justice Paulsen said Lave’s sentence has been made “to adequately reflect Parliament’s concern for children with the maximum sentence being life imprisonment, the age of the victim and the injurious effect this conduct has had which may last indefinitely”.

He said he considered “an appropriate discount to be one of three years imprisonment meaning the sentence I impose upon conviction is one of eight years imprisonment for carnal knowledge of a child under the age of 12 backdated to the date of his remand in custody”.

Justice Paulsen said Lave was remorseful and accordingly he suspended the final year of his sentence on the following:

  • He is not to commit any offences punishable by imprisonment during the period of his suspension.
  • He is placed on probation for the period of his suspension to live where directed by his probation officer.
  • He is not to reside in any residence near the victirn and he is not to reside in any accommodation where girls or young woman are present during his suspension.
  • He is to attend the following courses under the direction of probation; a course on sexual abuse and a course on drugs and alcohol abuse.

On the night before the incident Lave was drunk and was watching pornographic films, the court was told.

“He woke up and saw the victim playing with her sister on the swing. He was sexually aroused. He admitted deceiving the child and taking her into the bush area to have sex with her”.

The court judgement said Lave, a first offender,  is single and his  parents separated when he was about three.

He was adopted by his maternal aunt and lived in New Zealand.

At about 15, he was sent to Tonga and lived with his adopted father. His adopted father and his wife were separated about ten years earlier.