Man jailed 17 years for murder

A 21-year-old from Fatuvalu Safune has been given a minimum sentence of 17 years imprisonment for the murder of another man from Falelauniu. 

Iakopo Simeti, who was residing in Falelauniu last year, has pleaded guilty to the murder of a man named and the attempted murder of the deceased’s brother in May 2019 at Falelauniu. 

Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke handed down the decision this week after accepting an application to impose a minimum jail term of 17 years jail term for the 21-year-old’s murder. 

(The victim in the case was referred to by the Judge only by his first name in the duration of the decision: Alapati.)

According to a summary of facts, on May 11 2019, the accused had drank with the Alapati at his home. 

The men were consuming Boom Vodka and large bottles of Taula. 

Later on that night the men joined others in another drinking session where an altercation broke out between the victim and the assailant.

Simeti then went home and changed his clothes so that others would not recognise him and left with a kitchen knife to find the deceased. 

The Court heard that it took about an hour to walk from where the men were drinking to Simeti’s home and back to where the deceased was. 

When the accused returned to look for Alapati and his brother making their way home. Simeti approached them at the Falelauniu three corners. 

Unsure of which man was Alapati, the accused called out his name before approaching him. 

Armed with the kitchen knife he stabbed the deceased several times and turned to stab the brother of the deceased, who then tried to intervene. 

The second victim retreated to look for help while Simeti continued to stab the deceased in the neck, shoulder, elbow and torso. 

The victim managed to escape but never made it home.

He was found in a faleo’o not far from his home; the accused did not render any assistance to him. 

Justice Leiataualesa told Simeti that he had taken a man’s life and in doing so attempted to also kill another man, namely his victim’s brother. 

“Your actions on the 11 May last year has forever changed your life, that of your family as well as that of the deceased and his family,” he said. 

“In sentencing you today, I hope the gravity of what you have done is not lost on you. 

“For the victim’s family, there is nothing this Court or any person can do to bring Alapati back.”

Justice Leiataualesa said he hopes the sentence for Simeti will bring closure and justice on the deceased’s family for the wrong that has been committed.

In delivering the sentence, the Supreme Court Judge also raised concerns over locally made liquor called Boom Vodka that was consumed by the parties involved. 

He cited several cases where various judges expressed concerns about the alcohol and its links to violent offending in community. 

“This is again another of those cases involving alcohol fueled violence linked to this type of locally produced alcohol that the Courts have described as ‘cheap jet fuel’,” said Justice Leiauatalesa.

“There is real need for open and transparent community discussion about this type of alcohol, its manufacture, safety, impact and availability in our community with a view for appropriate reform and greater regulation.”

The Judge warned that failure to do so will only continue to result in more serious violence in the community where there is unnecessary loss of life and serious injury caused. 


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