Posted By Staff Reporter
Pomio MP Paul Tiensten has begged the National Court for leniency when it hands down its decision on sentencing next week.
Standing before Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, Tiensten made an emotional plea to the court for a lighter sentence after submissions for his sentence were made by the State and his defence.
Tiensten made the appeal on the grounds that he was a first time offender and that he was married and had three children under the age of 10 still in school.
His lawyer Greg Sheppard stressed this and also said Tiensten had a distinguished career in the public service, before and during his tenure as an MP and Minister of State.
On his conviction of misappropriating K10 million from the Department of Planning and Monitoring when Tiensten was the minister in 2011, Sheppard said there never was any technical application made for the release of the money as Tiensten only wrote a note on top of the request letter for the release of the funds.
Sheppard said the single mitigating factor that distinguishes this case from other misappropriation cases is that evidence proved that Tiensten never benefitted directly from the money released.
Based on this, he asked the court for a suspended non-custodial sentence and restitution to recover the money and community service. Sheppard said rather than make Tiensten a liability in jail, he should be used as an asset through retribution, restitution and rehabilitation.
They also presented four character references, two of which were from Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and another from Opposition Leader Belden Namah.
The State prosecution team agreed with the defence that Tiensten did have a distinguished career, however, they said being convicted of misappropriation diminished the significance of that career.
They alluded to their stance that the intent to misappropriate the money was there as evidence showed that the same letter to request funding was used in 2010 and 2011.
They stated that Tiensten was in a key position of authority and power over the department secretary and subordinate staff to make the direction which had an effect of authority.
The state prosecution requested the maximum penalty be imposed on Tiensten.
Tiensten will learn his fate on March 28th when the court gives its decision.
He is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
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