Alcohol blamed for robbery and car theft

A man jailed for robbing a taxi driver and stealing his car has blamed alcohol for his behaviour.

Visesio Aso, of Matautu-tai and Lauli’i, was sentenced to two years and nine months' imprisonment for stealing belongings from a taxi driver who jumped out of the car and ran for help.   

Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke handed down the decision, telling Aso that only he can change his life. 

Aso, with two other co-defendants, drove off with the taxi belonging to a 23-year-old from Vaimea in April this year taking $150 tala and a cell phone. 

The men stopped the taxi at Matautu on the 19th of April. They asked the the taxi driver to drive them to Lauli’i. 

But not long after the men got in the taxi, Aso punched the driver on the mouth. When it reached Vaipuna the victim jumped out of the taxi and ran for help. 

The men did not stop and drove off.

In acknowledging the that alcohol is to blame for his reoffending, Aso told the Court that his family and church pastor tried to give him guidance. 

“But when you are drunk you forget all about what they have said to you,” said Justice Leiataualesa. 

“You are now at a point in your life that when you come before the Courts, you do not even have the support of your family anymore.

“Aso, only you can change your life.

“While others can only try and help you, the responsibility is yours to make a change in your life.”

The Judge encouraged the 29-year-old to find his way back to his family and seek their support and help for his alcohol problem.

He notes programmes such as by the Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous programmes offering rehabilitation via the Prisons and Probation Service offer people with alcohol issues.

About the offending, Justice Leiataualesa pointed out an aggravating factor was that the robbery was of a vulnerable taxi driver in which Aso initiated the violence.

"Attacks on taxi drivers has become increasingly prevalent and it is becoming more and more a dangerous service to provide to the public, particularly at nights and when picking up young drunk men such as you and your friends were that night,” he said.

The defendant completed school at year 11 in 2006 before he moved to Matautu-tai to live with his mother and step-father.

According to the prosecutor, Quentin Sauaga, Aso has a lengthy prior conviction record for similar offences starting 2010.

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