Woman sent to jail for defrauding family after Supreme Court discovers previous convictions

A woman has been jailed after her sentence was altered after the court discovered she had a criminal record.

Kolonia Latu ‘Ekuasi, 32, appeared in the Supreme Court on September 1 on charges of fraud arising over her half-sister’s wedding in 2021.

‘Ekuasi defrauded family members of several thousand pa’anga by falsely claiming to have booked the Vakaloa Beach Resort and then created false receipts, fake e-mail accounts and pretended to be the owner of the resort.

At that original trial she was sentenced to 18 months in prison, fully suspended for two years on condition that she did 80 hours community service. She was convicted on one count of obtaining money by false pretenses and two counts of forgery.

Her sentence was based on the Crown’s submission that she had no previous convictions.

However, the court was later informed that the woman, who is also known by two aliases, Nia Latu and Seini Koionia Latu, had just pleaded guilty in the Magistrate’s Court to three counts of fraud totalling TP$20,500. She was convicted on all counts for schemes which centred on the fraudulent sale of vehicles.

In 2021 she was sentenced on two counts of fraudulent conversion totalling TP$15,000.

Her sentence  in the case heard on September 1 this year date was withdrawn and she appeared  before the Supreme Court for sentencing.

The prosecution told the Supreme Court that ‘Ekuasi was in a position of trust and abused that trust when she misused her sister’s money. Her actions were highly deceptive and dishonest; the offending was pre-meditated and she had previous convictions of similar offending.

In his sentencing, the Lord Chief Justice said he had considered the level of premeditation and contrivance, and the fact that the offending was not just a single event but was orchestrated over a period of at least two months. For those reasons, imprisonment was necessary.

“The circumstances of the offending, including the various stories the Defendant made up to the victims, tend to indicate a certain level of emotional immaturity; something more than mere selfishness, as if she has been obsessed with trying to gain the attention of her family members or others she may have been trying to impress with displays of (others’) money,” Lord chief Justice Whitten said.

“I agree with the probation officer’s suggestion that the Defendant is likely to benefit from the support and guidance offered by rehabilitative programs such as a Life Skills course.”

‘Ekuasi was re-sentenced to a total of three years in prison with the final year suspended for two years on condition of good behaviour.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news