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Man guilty of machete attack on deaf man

The Supreme Court on Friday found a man from Salesatele Falealili, guilty of attacking a man with hearing and speech impediments with a machete over a land dispute. 

Tafesilafai Iosefa was charged with three counts of grievous bodily harm, occasioning actual bodily harm and being armed with a dangerous weapon. 

He pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

In his defense, Tafesilafai gave evidence that the attack on Oliva Malio was an act of self defence. 

But Acting Chief Justice, His Honour Vui Clarence Nelson, said he was not convinced by the claim of the defendant.

Two boys from the same village witnessed the accused striking at the complainant.  

“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that, in particular from the evidence of these two boys, that you were not acting in self deference,” said Justice Vui. 

“Even if it true what you said that he attacked you first, which I highly doubt, the evidence of the two boys indicates that your retaliation was out of all proportion to such an attack .

“Furthermore you had an opportunity to retreat but instead you proceeded to inflict the injuries on the complainant.” 

Justice Vui said Tafesilafai’s claim of self defence was not accepted and he wasfound guilty of all charges.  

According to evidence before the Court, Malio was maintaining his plantation on his family land at Salesatele earlier this year when he was attacked. 

The Court heard that the accused was told by his daughter that Malio was cutting down his nonu trees. 

But the complainant maintained that the plants and trees were planted on his land and belonged to him. 

He added that he believed the reason he cut down the trees was because relatives of the accused had stolen fruits from his plants. 

In his evidence, Tafesilafai said he was talking to Malio when he was suddenly struck with the machete. 

It led to him retaliating and causing injuries to the complainant, he said. 

In considering the evidence before the Court, Justice Vui placed weight on the two witnesses who saw Tafesilafai causing injuries to the complainant. 

It is also the evidence of the men that the accused waved goodbye to them before leaving the area after the attack. 

Tafesilafai, by contrast, claimed that he was waving at the men to get their attention so they can could render help.  

Justice Vui said it was clear that, throughout the incident, the deaf man had screamed for help and his brother in-law and two other men came to his aid.

 Malio was later taken to the hospital where, his mother said, he had four operations.

The Judge pointed out the doctor’s evidence states that there was an underlying fracture to Malio’s left leg bone and his tendons were severed. 

“The complainant is obviously still suffering from his injuries as evidenced by his inability to walk in Court without the aid of relatives and crutches,” said Justice Vui. 

“The man's previous ability and status as a hard worker as testified by other witness obviously has faded.

“It is significant in the assessment of what happened that the accused took no action to help the complainant even when he knew that the man was injured from his strikes.”

Justice Vui then adjourned the matter for sentencing next month and Tafesilafai will be remanded until then. 

The defendant was represented by his lawyer, Leilani Tamat; the prosecutor for the case was the Attorney General’s Office lawyer Anne Matalasi.

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