Father sent to prison for manslaughter

By Pai Mulitalo Ale ,

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SAD MOMENT: Tavita Tanielu with his lawyer outside Court.

SAD MOMENT: Tavita Tanielu with his lawyer outside Court.

A 31-year-old father Tavita Tanielu has been jailed for three years for manslaughter. 

Tanielu was emotional in Court when Justice Vui Clarence Nelson handed down his decision yesterday.

The defendant had begged the Court for mercy, asking for another chance because of his children and his family.

However, Justice Vui told him he is not the only person to have appeared in Court, citing such grounds. There have been many other people before him.

“But there is a possibility for you to get an early parole,” said Justice Vui. 

According to the police summary of facts, the incident occurred at the Fugalei Market on the 13th September 2014 between 7 and 8pm. 

The defendant’s wife operates a stall at the market but the deceased was also selling empty sacks to farmers selling their crops. 

The deceased is a 62-year-old father and on the night of the incident he was intoxicated and he was walking around the market. When he arrived in-front of the defendant’s wife’s stall, he opened his lavalava. The defendant’s wife told him to go somewhere else but instead of leaving he started to swear at her while the Mr. Tanielu’s daughter was also present. 

The deceased left the scene and continued to the other side where he met the defendant and sold him five empty sacks for $10. 

After the sacks were sold to the defendant, a woman at the market told him about what the man had done to his wife.

Tanielu then followed the deceased and asked him to take back his sacks and return his money. An argument ensued where Tanielu got angry and slapped the old man’s face.

He fell and hit his head on a concrete floor at the market. 

The deceased was unconscious and Tanielu was concerned he got a bucket of water and poured it on the deceased.

But his efforts were in vain.

Tanielu and his friend took the deceased to the hospital for treatment. Four days later, he died from serious head injuries.

In delivering sentencing yesterday, Tanielu was told that the maximum penalty for manslaughter is life imprisonment. 

However, Justice Vui said for this matter he considered the circumstances especially with the deceased actions and his attempts to revive and assist him after he slapped him; he took only five years as a starting point. 

Six months was also deducted for his good character and clean record. 

Another six months were deducted due the traditional apology was carried out.

The family of the deceased man also asked for this matter to be withdrawn. 

And for his guilty plea twelve months were deducted which leaves a balance of three years. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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