Lawyer pursues justice for Hans Dalton

The family of a New Zealand-based Samoan man found upside down in a drum of water at the Tafa'igata Prison is still searching for closure, seven years after his tragic death.

Hans Dalton, 38 at the time, was locked up at Tafa'igata due to the lack of facilities at the Tupua Tamasese Hospital for mental health patients in December 2012. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the lawyer for the Dalton family, Leulua’iali’i Olinda Woodroffe, said they are not giving up on the search for answers and justice for Hans.

“I’m going to make sure the civil matter is going to proceed,” she told the Samoa Observer. 

“The key issue is, what is the responsibility of New Zealand government for their N.Z. citizen who are killed overseas and what is the responsibility of the Samoan government to ensure our tourists are safe.”

The lawyer expressed disappointment in how the Coroner in New Zealand blamed Samoa for non disclosure of files in relation to the matter. 

Leulua’iali’i wondered if the Treaty of Friendship does not apply to such issues that affect citizens from both countries. 

She said she was due to meet Prime Minister, Tuliaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, to discuss Dalton’s case. 

In August this year, the N.Z. Coroner’s Court was unable to determine how Dalton died, citing several possible scenarios. 

The New Zealand Heard reported that Coroner Peter Ryan said one of those scenarios is Dalton could have suffered a heart attack and fallen in (the 44-gallon drum). 

Coroner Ryan also did not rule out suicide.

Dalton suffered a mental health episode while on holiday in Samoa after the Cyclone Evan struck Samoa in 2012. 

He was incarcerated at Tafaigata prison because of the lack of facilities at the time for mental health patients.

A prisoner was charged with Dalton's murder, but the conviction was overturned because of a lack of evidence.

Following a meeting with N.Z. Deputy Prime Minister, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters in September last year an inquest was finally held in December.

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