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Teacher claims her plea was influenced by Magistrate

January 21, 2019 4:40 pm
Shenal Lal

A primary school teacher who was sentenced by the Rakiraki Magistrates court has requested for her case to be reviewed by the Chief Justice.

Justice Anthony Gates attended to the High Court review case this afternoon.

The matter involves the sentencing of Shenal Lal who claims she was instructed by a Magistrate from the Rakiraki Court to enter a guilty plea for her offence.

Lal was charged with one count of assault causing actual bodily harm.

She had smacked her class 1 student, a six-year-old, on May 18th 2018, and as a result the student had sustained injuries.

A complaint was filed against her by the child’s family and she was charged and appeared in the Rakiraki Magistrates Court.

This is where she claims that the learned magistrate told her to plead guilty so that the matter could be resolved and taken out of the courts.

The accused was given a non-conviction sentence under the law, meaning, the offence is not on her record.

However, the accused is now saying that the plea is equivocal and is contesting her sentence.

Defense Counsel, Talei Kean also reconfirming Lal’s stance that she did not want to plead guilty but was advised to do so by the court.

Justice Gates has set a date for hearing to determine the State’s position on the sentence delivered.

A case review is typically where the High Court identifies matters before the Magistrates courts that can be corrected or given guidance.

On average two-three review cases are heard by the High Courts per year.

Lal’s matter has been adjourned to February 14th for hearing.