Mother jailed for murder of newborn

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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“Today you will be taken to Tafaigata [Prison] and you will serve 10 years in jail,” noted Justice Tuatagaloa.

“Today you will be taken to Tafaigata [Prison] and you will serve 10 years in jail,” noted Justice Tuatagaloa.

Supreme Court Justice Mata Tuatagaloa, handed down a 10-year-sentence for a young mother who flushed her newborn baby down the toilet back in 2015. 

The matter was scheduled for a hearing this week however Vesi Enele opted to enter a guilty plea to the charge of murder. 

In her 20’s the young mother was in Vaiusu back in 2015 visiting friends when the incident occurred. 

According to the Police Summary of Facts, Vesi was in the bathroom, where she gave birth to her child into the toilet bowl. 

The Police report indicated that Vesi attempted to flush the newborn baby down the toilet more than once. 

The baby clogged up the toilet and water came back out and flooded the family’s home. 

This is how the family found out about the incident. 

The woman was then taken to the hospital. The Police report says, the matter was reported to them by the hospital officials. 

The Coroner’s report from the autopsy indicated the baby was alive upon birth, however death occurred from drowning when the water filled up the baby’s lungs. 

Prosecuting the matter was Lucy Maria Sio of the Attorney General’s office. During the hearing, Defense Counsel, Richard Fa’aiuaso informed the court the defendant wished to vacate her not guilty plea and enter a guilty plea to the murder charge. 

He further noted the Prosecution anticipated withdrawing the manslaughter charge upon the defendant’s guilty plea. 

“We had previously indicated the likelihood of change of plea and we confirmed that this morning,” he said.

“We seek the court’s leave to withdraw the not guilty plea and substitute her plea of guilty to the murder charge,” said Defense Counsel. 

“I understand there is a manslaughter charge which the prosecution will be seeking to withdraw and dismiss. 

“I further understand that according to, the sentencing statute, the defendant is automatically sentenced to life imprisonment, a minimum of 10 years before being eligible for parole. 

Ms Sio confirmed to the court what Defense Counsel had indicated. 

“We do wish to withdraw the manslaughter charge.” 

However Justice Tuatagaloa pointed out there were two murder charges and one manslaughter charge before the court. 

Ms Sio stated “The final charge should be one murder charge, that is the charge with the wording, by an unlawful or by omission without lawful excuse, to perform or observe any legal duty.” 

The Prosecutor further pointed out that given the defendant’s guilty plea to the murder charge, the automatic sentence is that of life imprisonment. 

Justice Tuatagaloa asked for the Prosecutor’s submission on the comments by Defense Counsel that his client serve 10 years in jail prior to eligibility for parole. In response, Ms Sio informed the court that sentencing is at the court’s discretion.

Justice Tuatagaloa explained to the young mother that her attorney had informed the court of her guilty plea to the murder charge and Vesi confirmed to the court. 

“The penalty for the murder charge under the law is life imprisonment.  However your attorney notes that under Sentencing Act section 65, he is seeking the court’s discretion to hand down a 10 year sentence so you do not spend the rest of your life in jail. 

“Today you will be taken to Tafaigata [Prison] and you will serve 10 years in jail,” noted Justice Tuatagaloa. 

To the counsels Justice Tuatagaloa stated “I’m imposing section 65 the minimum of ten years to be served. 

“This means that she must serve not less than 10 years,” Justice Tuatagaloa reiterated.

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