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Man guilty of machete attack over pig deal gone wrong

A man, who struck two other men with a machete during a dispute over the purchase of two pigs, has been found guilty of assault.

Paul Leapai, of Malie and Vaitele, who runs a Lawn Mowing business, was found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Vailepa Pili and Timoteo Ropati in December 2017 at Fasito'o-uta. 

He was also found guilty of being armed with a dangerous weapon, namely a machete. 

Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke delivered the verdict on Friday. 

Prosecutor was Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Fuifui Ioane. Muriel Lui represented Leapai. 

The Court heard that Leapai made a deal with Vailepa, who lives in Fasito'o, to buy two pigs for a Christmas party.

An arrangement was made for Vailepa to drop off the pigs and a payment of $500 tala was made by Leapai for the two pigs. 

However, the accused became angry when Vailepa did not deliver the pigs on time.

He wanted them taken to Taro King to be roasted there.

Vailepa, on the other hand, had his car broken down at Malua and had instructed another man to take the pigs in a taxi to Leapai who was waiting at Vaitele. 

The accused was not happy with this and ended up going to Fasito’o where Vailepa lives. 

Although the evidence from prosecution and defense differed into the confrontation, it was clear that the men got into a fight. 

Leapai  alleged that Vailepa had held on to a rock and as an act of self-defence he used the machete. He also struck another man, Timoteo. 

 A medical report stated that Vailepa received a huge vertical laceration cut on the left side of the back of his shoulder. It was 15 cm long and 4 cm deep. The second wound was a vertical laceration on the middle of his back. It was 16 cm long and 4 cm deep.  

In terms of injuries to Timoteo, the nurse that examined him noted a horizontal laceration wound on the kidney region on the left side of his back. It was 18 cm and 4cm deep. 

In his decision, Justice Leiataualesa said he is satisfied that the evidence establishes beyond reasonable doubt that when Leapai struck Vailepa twice, he intended to cause grievous bodily harm. 

“In the circumstances where Vailepa was in my view in a vulnerable lower body position compared to the accused and he being significantly intoxicated having consumed alcohol over a very long period of time, he also did not pose a serious threat to the accused once disarmed of the machete in the circumstances,” said Justice Leiataualesa.

“Relevant to the proportionality of the accused response to the alleged threat from Vailepa is that the accused is a boxer, kicker boxer and martial artist good enough to make a living out of it overseas. 

“With those trained skills and having disarmed an intoxicated Vailepa of the machete, his use of the machete in the circumstances - even if Vailepa held a rock as alleged was substantially more than necessary for the purposes of self-defence.”  

Furthermore, Justice Leiataualesa said Leapai never declined further conflict or retreated from the assault. 

“Indeed, the accused could have retreated from the situation entirely once he had disarmed Vailepa of the machete yet he did not."

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