Parolee gets no second chance after he assaults village chief

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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SUPREME COURT JUDGE: Justice Lei’ataualesa Darryl Clarke.

SUPREME COURT JUDGE: Justice Lei’ataualesa Darryl Clarke. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

A murder parolee has re-offended and has been sentenced to 11 months in jail for one charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. 

Solomua Fagota Feagaiga, of Falefa appeared in the Supreme Court, for sentencing before Justice, Leiataualesa Darryl Clarke.

According to the Prosecution Summary of Facts (report), the defendant was in a drinking session with the victim and other men in December 2016. 

It was Solomua and the victim engaged in a “lauga fa’a Samoa”. 

Solomua became annoyed, approached the victim holding rocks and assaulted the victim on his forehead several times. 

The victim suffered two vertical lacerations on his forehead, which required stitches. 

The medical report filed by the prosecution, which was prepared by Dr. Kamara Pouono, says that the victim on examination smelt of alcohol but was otherwise alert. He was not in any obvious distress and was conversing and responding appropriately to questions asked. 

Justice Leiataualesa pointed to the Pre Sentence Report (PSR), which indicated that the Pulenu’u of Falefa village gave three large bottles of vodka to the defendant and four other men who had completed work for the pulenu’u as payment for their labour.

The pre-sentence report indicates that in 2004, Solomua was convicted of murder and he was granted parole on the 25 September 2014 after serving 10 years. Upon release from prison, Solomua worked in construction but subsequently took up work as a barber at the flea market. 

The pre-sentence report indicated the defendant had been complying well with his parole conditions, until this matter. According to the Police report which the defendant accepted that he cannot recall the assault due to his intoxication.

The defendant took issue with the police report which indicates that “he did not possess the mental element or intent in relation to the offending.” He had engaged the victim in a “lauga fa’a Samoa”, he became annoyed with the victim as a result of that apparent competition and then took a rock and used it to strike the victim on the head with it. 

Justice Leiataualesa points out the defendant’s actions at the time of the offending were purposeful and intentional. 

“In his statement to the Court, the accused accepts that alcohol has been the primary cause of his imprisonment and was disappointed and remorseful for his actions.” 

The victim is a 47-year-old Chief of Falefa who had since reconciled with defendant. 

An apology was made and $200 was given to the victim to cover expenses as a result of the incident. The victim accepted defendant’s apology and also pleaded for the indulgence of the Court upon Solomua. 

Justice Leiataualesa points out the defendant is on parole and conditions of his parole is that he was prohibited from consuming alcohol which was contributing factor to the offending. 

The defendant also has prior convictions for violent offending including convictions for murder 2004, assault actual bodily harm and assault in 2003. Justice Leiataualesa points out that there are no mitigating features in respect of the offending.

“Personal to the accused is his guilty plea late as it was, his reconciliation and apology to the victim and the compensation paid to the victim by the accused. I also take into account the genuine remorse expressed by the accused at sentencing.” 

Justice Leiataualesa points to the offense, which was conducted while defendant is on parole. “A term of his parole was that he was prohibited from consuming alcohol, which he told the Court he believed only related to prohibition on consuming alcohol at Vaitele.” 

“I do not accept this. Furthermore, the accused said that his imprisonment, presumably for murder as that is the only offence for which he has been imprisoned, also related to offending associated with alcohol.” 

Justice Leiataualesa also notes the defendant had been drinking the vodka, the type commonly known as fagu “Maso”. 

“This is one of the inexpensive locally produced spirits available in Samoa. Many of the matters that come before our Courts stem from groups of men drinking large quantities of this type of alcohol, generally in their village or community setting, becoming intoxicated and then their drinking session turns to violence.

It is unfortunately a well worn track for many men who end up in Prison for violent offending.” 

Justice Leiataualesa further points out the defendant is on a track he walked before.

“Unfortunately for him, he has failed to learn lessons from his past to guide his future. If you cannot consume alcohol responsibly, then you should not consume alcohol at all. For the accused, he drank to excess despite his parole conditions.” 

“A deterrent sentence is required both to denounce the accused’s conduct and as a deterrent to others including prisoner’s on parole to comply with their parole terms not to consume alcohol.”

“It will also however include a rehabilitation component with the aim that when the accused is re-released from prison, he is better able to address his issues with alcohol.” 

The defendant is accordingly convicted and sentenced to 11 months imprisonment. Upon his release from prison, he will attend the 12 week alcohol program as soon as practicable as directed by the Probation Service and he is to successfully complete that program. This sentence is concurrent to the accused’s current imprisonment term.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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