Woman pleads guilty to concealing body of dead baby
A 22-year-old student accused of dumping a newborn at Mulifanua this year has pleaded guilty to concealing the dead body of a baby.
Afioa’e Sale, of Sapapali’i entered her guilty plea through her lawyer, Su’a Hellene Wallwork, in the District Court on Tuesday.
Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papali’i presided. She issued an order to prohibit the media from publishing the young woman’s photograph.
Furthermore, Judge Alalatoa said the media can only publish her reasons, the guilty plea and the adjournment date.
The order was issued after Su’a applied for a partial closed Court for the matter.
Prosecutor and Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Silupevaelei Rexona Titi, did not oppose the request.
In her reasons, Judge Alalatoa made it clear that is not to give the accused special treatment but it is the duty of the Court to protect the accused from from other repercussions.
“The case is one of its kind and we all must sit back and take a humanitarian approach to matters that come before the Court,” she pointed out.
“As Ms. Wallwork pointed out it is not because of any special treatment on the accused. What we do know from our Christian principles and culture is there should always be a sense of sensitivity towards offending of this nature.
“[it is] not to protect the accused but to look at other likely repercussions that might arise.
"I have read online some of the most adverse comments published regarding this defendant without any sense of empathy and sympathy of where she might be going.
"The Court is not made up of machines - we are humans, we must bear in mind those particular circumstances and we never know what is going on in the mind of this accused.”
Judge Alalatoa added that people should put themselves in the shoes of the accused and her parents.
She then ordered a psychological assessment to be carried out on the accused.
The defence lawyer has been asked to file a formal submission on her application for a partial closed Court and for prosecution to reply.
Her ruling on that application will be delivered on the 17th December 2019.
The matter has been adjourned until then and Miss. Sale has been excused from her next appearance upon consent from prosecution.
The young woman initially appeared in the Supreme Court where the matter was referred to the District Court due to jurisdiction of the Courts.