Updated: Aug 9
Eden Hope founders Stephen and Ruth Quinto are not backing down from their pursuit of justice against New Zealander Nigel John Giltrap, despite that their initial Constitutional petition was knocked back by the Supreme Court. The case was struck out on April 14th, 2020 by the Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek at the conferencing stage on technical grounds, and that the applicants did not have enough grounds to pursue the case further as presented.
Early this year, the Quintos decided to petition the Supreme Court over the government’s dodgy screening system that allowed a known convict from New Zealand – Nigel John Giltrap, to enter Vanuatu, when he should not have been in the first place.
Mr Giltrap was interestingly granted approval by Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) as an investor in Vanuatu in 2013, overlooking the fact that he had been tried and sentenced to jail for assault and domestic violence in 2009 and 2006 respectively.
The Quintos are currently restructuring their claims and are pursuing the matter on at least two fronts. A civil claim seeking damages and compensation from Mr Giltrap for assaulting and causing psychological and emotional distress to the Quintos is currently pending before the Supreme Court, while they also intend to pursue the matter through New Zealand courts.
Giltrap had been tried in New Zealand on seven counts, one of which was charges of assault with a weapon in 2009, laid under s 202c of the Crimes Act 1961. The other six counts were laid under ss 19 and 49(i)(a) of the Domestic Violence Act 1965. The Jury acquitted him on two of the domestic violence Act counts and convicted him on the other five.
In June 2006 Giltrap was also convicted in New Zealand of five breaches of a protection order obtained by a former partner. Mr Justice Farish, who presided over the trial, imposed a term of imprisonment, using the s 202c charge as the lead sentence, of two years and two months.
Locally, Mr Giltrap was found guilty on 28th June 2019 for assaulting Mr Quinto and his wife Ruth on 20th March 2018 at Si Chuan restaurant in Luganville over a disputed invoice. He was initially handed a 14-month jail term for his part in bullying and cowardly assaulting the elderly couple.
Giltrap’s sentence was later markedly reduced by the Vanuatu Court of Appeal in November 2019 to two months, although his conviction was upheld. He has since been released after spending at least 4 months in jail.
Giltrap is a 53 years old New Zealander. Upon his application being approved Giltrap bought Dinh shipyard in Luganville Santo and renamed it Nicon Shipyard.
On February 2015, Mr Quinto had his vessel hauled in for service by his (Quinto’s Contractors) after he had approached Nicon Shipyard.
The invoice Nicon provided to Quinto was higher than the previous work on the vessel by Dinh Shipyard in 2014. Mr Quinto asked Giltrap to explain the sudden increase in the service cost. Giltrap did not provide an explanation – causing him to delay payment.
On 16th of Feb. 2016, Mr. Quinto sent a cheque quoting the same amount he paid Dinh Shipyard in 2014 for the same service he had received from Nicon, plus 10%. The 10% was an offer by Quinto to Nicon Shipyard. Mr. Giltrap did not respond.
On 20th of March 2018, Giltrap met the Quintos in Si Chuan Restaurant in Luganville Santo and proceeded to angrily enquire about the unpaid balance of the bill Nicon Shipyard had sent him. During the course of the argument Giltrap went out of control and seriously assaulted both Steven and Ruth. At the time of the assault, Mr Quinto was 82 years old and his wife Ruth was 76.
Under Vanuatu Immigration law, Giltrap should not have been allowed into Vanuatu in the first place had VIPA, and Immigration done their jobs properly. He certainly would have been easily regarded as a “Prohibited Immigrant” for failing the character test. VIPA has since admitted that the matter was an “over-sight” which means VIPA had failed in its due diligence process to scrutinize Giltrap’s application.
The key question that remains to be answered by the Government is ‘what is the purpose of legislating laws which are not going to be respected by those who have the responsibility to observe and enforce those laws for the safety and security of the people, including our friends and visitors?’