Two men accused of assaulting 44-year-old Misa Vailigi Rarotoga of Vaimea resulting in his death last July have been found guilty of manslaughter.
The assessors’ verdict against PJ Tupuola Puni and Max Alefosio follows a lengthy murder trial in the Supreme Court before Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke.
Puni was represented by lawyer Diana Roma while Alefosio was represented by Lei’ataua Jerry Brunt. The prosecution team was made up of Leone Su’a-Mailo and Lucy Sio.
The defendant were charged with murder and following the two week trial, assessors found the defendants not guilty of murder but guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter.
One of the main witnesses in the case was a nephew of the one of the defendants.
Peato Joseph Kitiona, who claimed to have seen what happened, testified that on the night of 22 July 2016 at around 8:30, Puni and Alefosio came to his house and they had a drink.
They left the house and walked towards the road not far from JP’s bar.
It’s alleged that while the men were drinking the deceased joined them and then he left.
“As we were standing not far from where we were drinking I saw Misa (deceased) walking back to Max and that’s when I saw Misa punch Max and he fell on to the fence and screamed for help,” Mr. Kitiona said.
“At the time when Max screamed for help, I saw PJ came running out of JP’s Bar on to the other side of the road where Max and Misa were fighting and joined in.
“The fight continued for a while and I saw Misa fall to the ground.”
It was during cross-examination when it was revealed the witness was the nephew of PJ.
Leiataua asked the witness as to what is his relation to PJ was.
“He is my uncle,” said Mr. Kitiona.
Lei’ataua then put it to the witness if he did not think of helping his uncle when he saw that he was in trouble.
“When you see someone from your family getting beaten, isn’t it normal for a family member to help another family member who is in trouble?” the lawyer asked.
“Didn’t you feel that you had to help out your family because he was getting beaten by others?"
“No, because I’m not a violent person and I try to stay away from trouble,” the witness told the Court.
Senior Pathologist from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Dr. Philip Golpak told the court that during the post mortem, there were 14 injuries noted on the body of the deceased.
“The cause of death is due to Subdural and Subarachnoid Haemorrhage (intracranial bleeding) and it is my opinion that the injuries were the result of blunt force trauma. “In other words he was bleeding inside the brain and these two injuries were caused by blunt force trauma.”
The injuries that the deceased sustained from his lips and mouth including his loose tooth.”
Sentencing for the pair have been scheduled in two weeks time.