Nephew of Cook Islands' Prime Minister declined appeal against jail term for intimate visual recordings

Tuakeu Puna - the nephew of the Cook Islands Prime Minister - was jailed for 20 months for filming up women's skirts. Photo / Rob Kidd
Tuakeu Puna - the nephew of the Cook Islands Prime Minister - was jailed for 20 months for filming up women's skirts. Photo / Rob Kidd

A nephew of the Cook Islands' Prime Minister has lost appeals against his conviction and sentence for trawling malls for young women and filming up their skirts.

Tuakeu Cecil Puna, who is the nephew of Henry Puna, was in May jailed for 20 months for eight counts of making intimate visual recordings, one of attempting to do so and 17 of possessing such recordings.

Puna, 40, would scour South Auckland malls looking for young attractive women, whom he found working in jewellery, lingerie and clothing stores.

He was the second nephew of the Cook Islands' PM to appear in Manukau District Court this year.

In January, Nga Puna became the first person to be arrested over his student loan debt, which had ballooned to $130,000.

He was only allowed to leave the country after making a "significant repayment" and a brief court appearance.

Tuakeu Puna's conviction appeal was made on the basis evidence was obtained unlawfully during a warantless search and so shouldn't have been admitted at trial.

However, in a decision released last week the Court of Appeal found the evidence was admissible as it had been found lawful and reasonable pre-trial.

Puna also submitted the judge's sentence starting point of 20 months was too high for offending under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act.

But the Court of Appeal found the starting point was appropriate considering aggravating features, such as the fact the offending occurred over more than a year and the "quite sleazy and exploitative" editing of the recordings for his own sexual gratification.

Puna would turn up to malls either first thing in the morning or just as the shops were closing so there were fewer witnesses and the court heard how he would even take his daughter at times to provide cover.

He was eventually caught in the act in Mitre 10.

When police seized Puna's electronic devices they found he had edited some of the up-skirt videos.

They were slowed down when the women's genitalia were depicted and some were set to music.

The victims told the court they had become paranoid and felt violated since discovering they had been filmed without their knowledge or consent.

One said she was violently sick after giving evidence at trial, while another described the incidents as symptomatic of "rape culture".

Puna was found guilty of similar offending in 2013 when he stalked a woman around a shopping mall for 40 minutes before putting his hand up her skirt.

- NZ Herald

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