Justice Vui says stabbing one of “worst domestic violence” cases

Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has described an incident involving a woman, who was stabbed by her estranged husband in public in broad daylight, as one of the "worst domestic violence cases" in the history of Samoa.

The defendant, a 33-year-old man convicted of attempted murder, has been jailed for nine years.

Justice Vui issued the comment during sentencing, where he also issued a suppression order on the details of the defendant, to protect the interest of the victim.

“In the interests of the wife and children, I issue a suppression order prohibiting publication of the names and other details of all parties involved in this case,” he said. 

“That includes publication of such details on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and all other forms of social media.”

The defendant pleaded guilty to attempted murder, to causing grievous bodily harm and to being armed with a dangerous weapon, namely a kitchen knife. 

According to the Police summary of facts, the couple had issues regarding their marriage. The wife took their children and lived with her aunty.

The Police report says the defendant approached his wife and started questioning her about various marital matters. 

 “An argument ensued and the victim stood up to leave. According to the summary, the defendant grabbed her handbag and slapped her. He then pulled out his knife and stabbed her numerous times.   

 “The medical report on the victim notes multiple stab wounds including to the left jaw, right side of the neck, left upper breast down to her rib bones, left forearm also right down to the bone, left lower abdomen and left thigh.  

 “By my count, that is at least six separate stabs inflicted by the defendant although the medical report refers to other injuries suggesting there were more than six stabs delivered. 

 “It is a miracle no major arteries or internal organs were affected. According to the summary of facts, some of these wounds were delivered while the victim was lying on the ground unconscious. 

 “After he attacked his wife, the defendant just left the scene leaving the woman lying there and bleeding on the sidewalk. He told the probation office he went home. It was onlookers who rushed to the aid of the injured lady and took her to hospital where her wounds were treated.” 

Justice Vui pointed out the summary of facts goes on to state the defendant stabbed himself with the same knife. 

“But I do not accept that because the defendant told the probation office that he slipped on his way home after the attack and accidently stabbed himself in the stomach. 

“This is a case of domestic violence at its worst. The defendant went to the scene of this incident on the morning in question carrying a knife clearly intending to use it. 

“That is why he has pleaded guilty to attempting to kill her. He attempts in the probation office pre-sentence report to put the blame of this matter on his wife’s unfaithfulness, but there is no evidence to support that suggestion and the Court therefore completely rejects it.” 

Justice Vui took issue with the defendant by blaming everything else on his wife. 

“You sir are not the victim, your wife is. You were not the one stabbed more than six times and left to die on the side of the road, your wife was. 

“The purpose of sentencing you for your offences includes holding you accountable for your actions and the harm you caused to your wife. 

“It is also to denounce your conduct and to deter you and other males from this sort of behaviour. The Court must also have regard to the gravity and seriousness of this kind of offending,” said Justice Vui. 

He pointed out many studies and statistics show domestic violence is a scourge in the community that we live in and shows no sign of abating.  

“The damage that domestic violence inflicts on families and victims is akin to a stone being cast into the still waters of a lake. It has a ripple effect not only upon those immediately affected but on all those surrounding them. And its spread is capable of reaching the remote corner of every family and community.”  

Justice Vui made it clear the message from the Courts of Samoa must be unequivocal and must continue to be sent to the public and to people like this defendant. 

“This sort of behaviour is deserving of only one punishment, a term of imprisonment reflecting the circumstances of the case and the seriousness of the conduct of the offender. 

“Among the aggravating factors of the offending is firstly the vulnerability of the victim who was unarmed and no doubt completely unaware the defendant was in possession of a knife that morning, plus the fact that some of these stabs were delivered while she lay defenseless on the ground.” 

Justice Vui considered the premeditated aspect of the attack because the defendant came armed and sought out his wife that morning. 

“If bystanders had not intervened, this merciless attack could possibly have carried on. There is also the fact that multiple stabs were delivered by the defendant and to vulnerable areas of the body - the face, the neck, the chest and the abdomen. 

“Relevant also is the depth of some of the wounds, in the case of the wound to the upper breast, the medical report says it extended down to the woman’s ribs. And the wound to her left forearm was down the bone. 

“This is indicative of the force and fury involved in the attack. An attack that has caused some permanent damage,” said Justice Vui. 

For the attempted murder, the defendant is convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison. On the charge of causing your wife grievous bodily harm, he’s sentenced to six years in prison and they are to be served concurrently. 

Justice Vui noted the charge of armed with a dangerous weapon that is a superfluous charge is dismissed. 

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