Court releases accused man after one year in custody
After spending twelve months in custody, Eti Alapae walked away a free man after he appeared for sentence before Justice Lesatele Rapi Va’ai on Tuesday.
Alapae appeared for sentence on one count of intentional damage in relation to an incident at Matautu-tai.
He was arrested, charged and had been kept in custody since November 2015.
Fuifui Ioane who acted on behalf of the National Prosecution Office sought a custodial penalty for the defendant.
Prosecution asked for a three months penalty and to be upgraded to five months due to his long history of previous convictions.
However, Justice Lesatele disagreed.
He pointed out a proposal from the defense counsel that the accused had been in custody since November 2015 and asking for three months upgraded to five months the defendant had already served more than the time he should be sentenced.
Ms. Ioane then asked for a community based or supervision sentencing.
But Justice Lesatele did not agree either. He said he could just let him go because he had already served more than his sentence time.
In passing sentence, Justice Lesatele informed the accused that he had been in custody since last year, and he served a sufficient penalty for this matter.
“You are a free man, and you may leave the Court now.”
Outside the courtroom yesterday, defense counsel Vaega Lei Sam said that what the Judge imposed was an appropriate sentencing for his client.
“The decision was up to the discretion of the Judge but I only make the proposal,” said Mr. Lei Sam.
He said he applied several times for his client to be bailed out but the Prosecution kept on opposing his application. He said Tuesday’s decision was justice served