Taxi driver kidnappers jailed

The four men who kidnapped a taxi driver in Apia and locked him up in the boot of his car have been given custodial sentences of between eight and 17 months.

Roman Luamanu, Mu Fualau, Sui Fualau and Magia La’iva – who were jointly charged with kidnapping and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent – were also slapped with a charge of theft of $125 belonging to Ioasa Moors.

Supreme Court Justice, Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke, described the actions of the four men against the 64-year-old taxi driver as “cowardly” and emphasised that kidnapping was a serious charge.

“For your 64-year-old victim, you kept him in the boot of the taxi for a long period of time and at times suffocating as you drove around drinking alcohol. As you did this, you were, I expect, also a danger on the roads to other road users given you were drinking and driving.”

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Justice Leiataualesa also took into consideration the period of time the victim was held inside the boot of the taxi.

“The victim was physically assaulted and then kidnapped by placing him in the boot of his taxi. You then kept him confined in the boot of the taxi for a lengthy period of time, approximately 8 hours, as you drove around in Apia drinking and driving as you went. He was threatened with violence when the demand was made about the whereabouts of his money and you used that money stolen from him.”

The sentence that was imposed on the four men should serve as a deterrence and send a strong message to the public according to the judge. 

“The sentence I impose today is to denounce your conduct and to deter you and others from carrying out this type of offending including such a cowardly act against a defenseless and vulnerable taxi driver.”

The judge gave the four men custodial sentences. Roman Luamanu has been sentenced to 17 months imprisonment with the court taking in consideration his remorse and apology, banishment from his village, prior good character and early guilty plea.

Mu Fualau has been jailed for nine months with the court also taking into consideration his remorse and prior good character, being a youth and early guilty plea. For Sui Fualau and Magia La’iva, Justice Leiataualesa adopted 15 months as a starting point for their sentence and deducted four months for their remorse, prior good character, and early guilty plea.

They were both sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

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