Man jailed for 7 years for death of Chinese volunteer

The man — who was charged in relation to the death of a Chinese volunteer in August last year — has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment. 

Tauinaola Laupua of Salelavalu, Gataivai and Satapuala, pleaded guilty to one charge of manslaughter, one count of aggravated robbery and one count of assault with intent to rob. 

In sentencing the accused on Tuesday, Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke said the attack on the Chinese national was senseless and unnecessary death of Charles Chao.  

“Your acts that night tragically caused the death of a man minding his own business enjoying the night on the seawall,” said Justice Leiataualesa. 

“He, like other members of the public, was entitled to use the seawall without being harassed. 

“It was tragically a senseless and unnecessary death of a man who had come to Samoa from China to teach our children. 

“His death from your actions has had a significant impact on his family in China. 

“After you both fell down and the deceased motionless, you then robbed him of his phone and left him there either dead or dying. 

“You showed no feeling for your victim then robbing him and leaving him there on the seawall despite being motionless.”

In addition, Justice Leiataualesa said Laupua is a danger to the community and particularly when he is intoxicated. 

He said the sentence on the accused deters not only the accused, but others who might consider offending in a similar way. 

“When people consume alcohol, they must do so responsibly and know that if they then commit violent offending resulting in death, it will be dealt with sternly by the Courts,” he added. 

Lawyer Donald Kerslake represented the accused while Lucy Sio Ofoia was the prosecutor. 

Justice Leiataualesa said despite the serious pending matters against the accused at the time, he still drank alcohol, became intoxicated and then planned with a friend to rob the deceased at the seawall. 

“When you went to the deceased on the seawall, you told your friend to punch him,” he said. “You then fought with the deceased. 

“That you committed this offending whilst on bail for similar offending of violence is a serious aggravating factor to your offending.”

According to the summary of facts, on Friday 31 August 2018 between 10pm and 11pm, Laupua was drinking alcohol with friends in town near the public library. 

One of his friends told him that the deceased was walking behind the government building at the Eleele Fou. 

He then asked his friend to accompany him to look for the deceased and rob him.

When he was at the sea wall, Laupua told his friend to punch the deceased. 

His friend, however, refused out of fear and at the time the deceased was laying on the seawall playing with his phone. 

Together with his friend, the men approached the deceased and asked the deceased twice if he has money to buy food. The deceased responded "no you not buy food, you buy beer".

Laupua again asked the deceased for money but the deceased again replied "no, no".

The deceased then stood up and the accused then punched the deceased’s eye and started fighting with him. 

During the fight, the deceased punched Laupua and as he was about to fall, he grabbed the deceased's shirt. 

They both fell on to the rocky slope of the seawall towards the sea with the deceased falling face downwards. 

After the fall, the deceased was motionless and Laupua took off with the deceased’s phone leaving the man on the seawall. 

It wasn’t until the next day that Mr. Chao was found dead on the seawall. 

A post-mortem examination was carried out, which found the cause of death resulted from head injuries.

Laupua is 32-years-old, divorced and unemployed. He completed school to Year 12 and then opted to assist his family’s bakery in Salelologa. 

Mr. Chao, 41, was a male of Vaivase-uta and China. He was in a defacto relationship with children and was a Chinese volunteer working at the Anglican Preschool, Malifa. 

The victim’s impact report stated that the deceased’s wife in China spoke of the severe impact of her husband’s death to her and his 14-year-old daughter. 

His parents, who are said to be both 70-year-old, were also affected by the tragic incident. 

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