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Stab wounds caused death, Forensic Pathologist tells hearing

A medical expert has confirmed that a stab wound to the neck caused the death of a 34-year-old man from Sapapali’i Savai’i on New Year's day this year.

New Zealand forensic pathologist, Professor Carl Winskog, testified in a trial, where Uimaitua Papali’i of Sapapali’i has been charged with the murder of Tavita Mauafu. 

Papali’i has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and grievous bodily harm, in a hearing being presided over by Supreme Court Judge, Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala–Warren, with a panel of assessors. 

Mauafu was allegedly stabbed by Papali’i on the neck with a “pudding knife” after two altercations between the pair.

The Court heard that the defendant and the deceased were both intoxicated. 

They got into an argument and fought after a drinking session that took place among several other men from the village. 

Papali’i allegedly then went to Mauafu’s home where he stabbed him on the neck in front of his doorstep.  

In his evidence, Prof. Winskog, who arrived on Tuesday, told the Court that the injury sustained by Mauafu on the neck was life threatening. 

He made reference to a post mortem report he prepared, when he examined Mauafu in January this year, at the Moto’otua hospital.  

“[There were] signs of sharp injuries to the neck with a stab wound to the front of the neck with injuries to the back and front of the windpipe,” said the forensic pathologist.  

“[There was] aspirated blood in the lungs. 

“The cause of death is a single stab wound to the front of the neck.” 

Professor Winskog was shown the alleged murder weapon, a pudding knife,  and asked to give his opinion on it in relation to the wound he observed on the deceased. 

In response, he said the size of the knife fits very well to the injury on the deceased. 

“It’s not very sharp but it doesn’t have to be in that area of the body,” he explained. 

“It can penetrate through the skin and the windpipe being fairly stiff, it can cause that injury. 

“It is consistent with what could have caused the injury on the deceased.” 

Professor Winskog was the last witness for the prosecution. 

Papali’i took the stand on Thursday in his defence. The Office of the Attorney General’s lawyer, Lucy Sio Ofoia, and Fuifui Ioane are prosecutors. The defendant is represented by lawyer Leota Tima Leavai.

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