Fugalei market stabbing lands man in jail

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Court House, Mulinu'u.

Court House, Mulinu'u. (Photo: File)

A man who stabbed another man four times on his back at Fugalei has been jailed for nine years and six months.

Suli Suali’i, who is also known Ionatana Soali’i, was convicted of one charge of attempted murder by a panel of assessors.

Prosecuting the case was Ofisa Tagaloa while Afamasaga Michael So’onalole represented the defendant. Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala presided.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, the offending took place outside Fugalei market on 2 June 2017.

 The victim and the accused both have stalls at the market. They got into a verbal argument when the accused picked on one of the victim’s friends who was sitting outside the market.

“The victim, while arguing with the accused, threw the first punch which hit the accused. 

“The accused wrestled with the victim and while the victim was on the ground, the accused pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim four times.

“The medical examination of the victim revealed four stabs wounds on his back. The doctor said the stab wounds were category one, requiring urgent medical attention. The victim was hospitalised for two weeks and four days.” 

According to the pre-sentence report, the defendant is 25 years old, married with two children. 

“He maintained his innocence to probation, although he says he and the victim have reconciled. This was denied by the victim.

“Probation says he has evaded them in relation to his previous sentence of supervision. 

“He has previous convictions for causing injury, armed with a dangerous weapon and throwing stones in 2016.” 

Justice Tafaoimalo pointed out that its aggravating the accused used a weapon, namely a knife, to inflict injury. 

“This is a lethal and extremely dangerous weapon, potentially life threatening.

“The accused attacked the victim while the victim was on the ground and in a defenceless position. 

“He stabbed the victim four times and it is very fortunate the victim survived.

“The victim suffered category one injuries, which according to the doctor, are significantly serious to warrant urgent medical attention.

“The physical impact on the victim is aggravating as he could not use his left hand for a period of time. 

“It is an aggravating feature relating to the offender that he has previous convictions for causing injury, armed with a dangerous weapon and throwing stones in 2016.

“These convictions for serious and violent offending are similar and closely linked in time to his present offending. “He was sentenced to a community based sentence which he did not abide by according to Probation.

“In my view, these convictions are relevant to the question of uplift,” said Justice Tafaoimalo. 

She took into account the accused’s village penalty and his banishment from the village.

“I take into account his personal circumstances that he is a young man with a young family.

“Defence Counsel submits that there was a degree of provocation from the victim throwing the first punch.” 

Justice Tafaoimalo said in considering the culpability of the offending to determine a starting point, she considered the aggravating factors of the offending, there being no mitigating factors of the offending. 

“I assess his culpability to be significantly high given he stabbed the victim four times causing serious injuries. 

“I take into account when sentencing the need to hold the accused accountable for the harm done to the victim, to promote in him a sense of responsibility for and an acknowledgement of that harm, to provide for the interests of the victim, to denounce his behaviour, to deter others from similar offending and to protect the community.

“Too often we see the use of a knife in inflicting brutal injuries and even death. It is frightening to see the ease with which it is used in our community to harm and kill people, often without thought of the consequences. 

“A message from this sentence is that the use of knives on people will be met with a custodial sentence.

“Even if there was a degree of provocation from the victim who punched the accused first, the response by the accused was way out of proportion,” said Justice Tafaoimalo.  

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