Party gone wrong; man jailed for manslaughter
A 22-year-old male of Lotofaga-uta has been jailed for six years for manslaughter.
The decision was handed down by Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson this week.
Sefo Amituana’i was represented by Te’o Richard Fa’aiuaso, while prosecution lawyer was Fuifui Ioane of the Attorney General’s Office.
Justice Vui said the defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter which carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
“He is one of two men charged in this matter, but his co-defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charge and his trial is scheduled for next month,” he said.
“Every case is very much dependent on its particular facts, but as the law stated, the loss of a human life is a very serious matter and this must never be lost sight of.”
According to the uncontested Police summary of facts, the defendant is married with one child and lives at Faleapuna with his partner.
“On April 7, 2017, he travelled to Lotofaga to his family to obtain taros for his Sunday umu and in the evening was engaged in a drinking party at his family house with his uncle and the co-defendant, who both live in Lotofaga uta,” said Justice Vui.
“About 10 pm that day, the deceased arrived at the party drunk carrying a machete."
“He joined the party and became, as the Police summary of facts described, agitated when the men did not give him a cigarette or any more drink."
“He also asked the co-defendant where the defendant’s sister was sleeping and not surprisingly this angered the defendant."
“The deceased was also, according to the Police summary of facts, ‘swinging his machete around’ and threatening the crew, unwise action given where the party was happening."
“The deceased was then taken to the road by the co-defendant and the defendant grabbed a piece of poumuli while following the two men."
“On the road, the defendant and the co-defendant threatened the deceased and the co-defendant punched the deceased and he fell."
“He fell towards the co-defendant and the co-defendant caught him, but at this time, the defendant got hold of the machete and he grabbed the timber that he brought and hit the deceased with it."
“Amituanai said it’s either the deceased’s side or his stomach that he hit and fell on the road and then he and the co-defendant both kicked him and punched him while he’s lying on the road."
“He also said he wasn’t sure how many kicks and punches because he was also drunk. They carried him on the side of the road but he was snoring at that time.”
According to Justice Vui, the deceased was obviously at this point unconscious from the assault, but these men left him lying by the roadside.
“And according to the defendant’s statement to the police, they went back and resumed their drinking. At some stage, they returned to where the deceased was lying and found him still unconscious but snoring and decided to try and take him to his house."
“They uplifted him to his house but because he became too heavy they again deposited him on the side of the road and then they all went home.”
Justice Vui said these were actions of carelessness.
“No thought was given to telling the deceased’s family about what had happen to him or of the deceased’s whereabouts and his condition,” he said.
“The deceased was only discovered the next day by a relative passing by and by that time he was dead."
“These are quite careless actions and indicate a failure to render any assistance to the deceased that these men had just assaulted.”
A post-mortem examination was conducted by a pathologist for the cause of death.
“A post-mortem examination report from the pathologist showed his death was due to a fracture on the back of his skull caused by blunt force trauma and this caused internal bleeding,” said Justice Vui.
“It is not known which of the two men caused the skull fracture."
“They both initially assaulted the deceased, co-defendant by punching him, defendant by hitting him with a piece of timber and then joined in kicking and punching the defenseless deceased while he was lying on the ground.”
In this matter, according to Justice Vui, the deceased’s action clearly shows provocation.
“In this case, it is clear that the deceased’s action provoke the action of the defendant and his co-defendant."
“The purpose of sentencing is to hold the defendant accountable for his actions and also to deter them from such behavior and to send an appropriate message to the general public, especially in relation to alcohol consumption."
“Over the years I have said to hundreds of defendants that you can’t drink and act responsibly, it is best to leave alcohol alone."
“It’s time for the Government to expedite the Alcohol Control legislation that they have been talking about for so long.”