A man convicted of assaulting another man last November, who has since remained in a coma, has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail.
Asonei Noa of Ti’avea appeared before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala for sentence on one charge of grievous bodily harm with intent.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. He pleaded guilty.
Justice Tafaoimalo said the Prosecution summary of facts, admitted to by the accused, states that on 29 November 2017 around 11pm, the accused and the victim went to the shop. Both were intoxicated.
“They got into an argument on the way back to the home of the accused in the car. The accused then chased the victim to go home.
“As the victim was walking away, he swore at the accused. The accused then walked to the victim who punched him but missed.
“The accused punched the victim three times until he was on the ground then kicked the victim repeatedly on the face and head. The accused then dragged the victim by the legs to the main road and left him there.
“A taxi driver found the victim around 1am and notified Police. The victim was taken to the hospital.”
Justice Tafaoimalo pointed out the pre-sentence report shows the accused consumed six big bottles of beer before driving inland to see some relatives.
“He says there were a group of men drinking next to the road blocking his way. The victim refused to move and he and the victim got into a swearing match.
“The men left and he proceeded to where he was going. He had been there five minutes when he heard the victim swearing in front of the house. He and the victim began fighting.
The victim fell to the ground and the accused continued to kick him.
“He then dragged the victim to the road and left him there.”
The Supreme Court noted the defendant has previous convictions for being armed with a dangerous weapon in 2000, causing Grievous bodily harm in 2001 and narcotics in 2004.
Justice Tafaoimalo stated the victim is a 46-year-old male of Letogo suffered extensive bruising and abrasions over the right side of his head and face.
“He had two deep jagged lacerations over the left side of his face. “A CT scan revealed intracranial bleeding with multiple fractures to the right facial bones. He is intubated and in the Intensive Care Unit.”
Justice Tafaoimalo notes the incident of serious violence.
“It was kicking aimed at the head of someone who was on the ground, in a defenceless position. The repeated kicking to the face and head indicates uncontrollable rage. It may have been started by a missed punch from the victim but the level of violence from the accused is alarming.”
Justice Tafaoimalo pointed out that what’s aggravating after beating the victim, the accused dragged him face down to the main road and left him there, without any assistance to the victim.
“I find this as particular cruelty in the commission of the offence.
“It is aggravating that the victim has still not regained consciousness. The effect of this offending on the victim has been weighty. The victim is suffering from serious and long-term harm. It has been 5 months since the offending.
“There is no certainty for the family of the victim whether or when the victim will regain consciousness,” said Justice Tafaoimalo.
“Alcohol was a contributing factor to this offending. But being intoxicated at the time of the offending is not a mitigating factor.
“The Prosecution is calling for deterrence in this matter. Prosecution submits “Given that this offence is very serious so as to its nature, a great need for deterrence and denunciation of the defendant and the overall community should be top priority. “Thus such offending is never condoned by the justice system and should be dealt with strictly”.
Although it could be expressed better by Prosecution, I agree entirely with the strict approach by the Court. The violent and senseless nature of this assault on the victim, and the actions of the accused following that assault warrants a custodial sentence.
Justice Tafaoimalo sentenced Noa to three years and four months imprisonment.