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Single punch lands Falealupo chief in jail

A single punch from a matai of Falealupo, which killed another man from the same village, has landed Taofinu'u Vitale at the Tanumalala Prison.

Vitale, 55, pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter against him. The victim fell and hit his head on the floor as a result of the punch. He died shortly after.

A medical report showed that the cause of death was head trauma. 

The Court heard that the deceased had drank with the defendant where he questioned whether the defendant was in fact from Falealupo.

Vitale became upset, punched the deceased and then he left to go home. 

Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren took 3 years as a starting point for the sentence.

Two years and six months were deducted for Vitale's guilty plea, good character, reconciliation with the victim’s family and paying village penalty. 

The father received a six months jail term after Justice Tafaoimalo declined prosecution and defence counsel’s request for a non-custodial sentence. 

“It is rather unusual that the prosecution has recommended a non-custodial sentence while predominantly providing authorities for ‘one-punch’ custodial sentences…,” said the Judge. 

“Here the accused intentionally punched the deceased causing the fall that resulted in his death. A custodial sentence is warranted both as a deterrent not only to the accused but others who respond with violence.

“Punching is an act of violence.” 

In the victim’s impact report, the wife of the deceased man said her children still ask about their father. 

She said he is missed at home and is still in shock of his sudden death. 

The mother added that she forgives the accused and had asked the Court for a lighter sentence for him. 

In handing down the sentence, Justice Tafaoimalo pointed out the aggravating feature of the offending is that Taofinuu used violence to respond. 

She said the victim was intoxicated making him vulnerable. 

“You did not render any assistance to the deceased after punching him,” she said. 

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