Man jailed one year and three months for manslaughter

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Court House at Mulinu’u.

Court House at Mulinu’u.

A   man  convicted   of manslaughter has been jailed for one year and three months. Malauulu Solovi of Saleaumua, Aleipata was sentenced by Supreme Court Justice, Leiataualesa Darryl Clarke. 

Malauulu, appeared before the court for sentencing on one charge of manslaughter and one charge of unlicensed driving. 

According to the Summary of Facts accepted by the defendant on the 10 April, 2017, the defendant was the driver of a Hyundai Getz rental car. 

“As you returned from Faleolo Airport to Saleaumua, Aleipata on the East Coast Road, you were speeding at Lauli’i. As you drove through Lauli’i, you were travelling between 50 – 60 miles per hour. 

“You told Police in your caution statement that this incident occurred at Lauli’i. You told the Probation Service it was raining. 

“The speed limit at the location where you struck the victim was 35 miles per hour.

“The victim is a Church Minister. He was crossing the road as he was leaving Church to go to his home on the opposite side of the road to the church. 

“He had passed the centre line of the road as he crossed. You saw the victim only 5 – 6 metres before you struck him. 

“You tried to swerve to avoid hitting him but couldn’t as there was a car travelling from the other direction. On hitting the victim, he was thrown a distance from the point of impact. 

“You then also struck the car heading in the opposite direction towards Apia causing that car to face eastwards in the direction it had come from.

“The victim’s wife heard a loud bang and came to the scene and found the victim. He died having sustained several deep lacerations to the head and left eye, open skull fracture over the left eye and minor abrasions over his legs and chest.” 

Justice Leiataualesa said an ifoga was performed by the defendant’s family. “This presentation was carried out at the victim’s home at Lauli’i but was apparenty made to the village of Lauli’i due to protocols on that day raised by, apparently, the village of Lauli’i. 

“The ifoga included $20,000.00 and 10 large fine mats. These were accepted by the village. The victim’s wife told the Probation Service that from the ifoga, she received $1,000.00 from that ifoga.” The defendant also paid a village fine of $4,000, 40 boxes of chicken legs, a cow and a sow.

Justice Leiataualesa  said the victim was a 68 year old male of Lauli’i and was a Church Minister for the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The victim’s wife Fuatino Su’a Atonio said that her husband was suffering following the accident. 

“He was a loved husband, father and grandfather.

“Fuatino and her children are people of strong faith and forgiveness. They forgive you for what has happened and for the death of her husband.

The victim’s funeral cost exceeded $40,000.”

 Justice Leiataualesa noted that in the case of Malauulu, the Summary of Facts does not disclose ongoing dangerous driving. No alcohol was involved, often hand in hand with speed and road deaths in this country. 

“Your culpability rests on your speeding, possibly in wet conditions, at night at between 15mph – 25 mph above the speed limit. When considering the aggravating factors Malauulu’s offending is at the lower end of culpability of  this type of offending.

“While it is at the lower end, a non-custodial sentence is inappropriate,” said Justice Leiataualesa.  

Malauulu was jailed for one year and three months and has been disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for a period of 4 years. 

“I further order that your disqualification shall continue until such time as you have passed the prescribed test of competence to drive any class or classes of vehicles that you may then seek to drive.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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