Man jailed for amputating ex-wife's fingertip

A man who amputated his now ex-wife’s fingertip with a machete has been jailed for seven months by the Supreme Court. 

Failo Kolone Sauaga, of Aele and Vaivase Tai, was facing charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and being armed with a dangerous weapon.

The defendant pleaded guilty in January 2015, for the incident which occurred in 2013, and was sentenced this week, before Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren.

The Judge made reference to the prosecution’s summary of facts, which was acknowledged by the accused. 

It described the convicted defendant as 27-years-old and, prior to the offending, staying home and looking after his family. The victim was his then-wife, who was the same age.  At the time of the incident, the pair were living together at Aele Fou.

The Police report noted that on 8 October 2013, the victim reprimanded the accused for coming home late that morning.

”She then decided to lie down on the floor and rest. While she was lying on the floor, the accused approached her with a machete and struck her,” the court was told.

“The victim put up her right hand to block the knife and as a result the top of her small finger on her right hand was severed. The victim got up and ran for help.”

Justice Tafaoimalo noted that in the pre-sentence report, the accused and the victim divorced in 2017. He has remarried and has three children from his new wife and now works at a bank.

“He continues to express remorse to probation about the incident saying that he has matured mentally and emotionally since the offending,” the Judge said. 

“Reconciliation is confirmed by both the accused and the victim.”

Justice Tafaoimalo noted in court the accused saying that prior to the offending, he and the victim had been having marital problems. She stayed at her family’s home while he was at his family’s home in another village. He returned to her home the day before the incident.

The accused has previous convictions for offences of dishonesty.

The victim said that, at the time, she had reconciled with the accused and forgiven him. She was shocked when the assault happened and feels sad when she sees her deformed fingers. She confirmed receiving an apology from the accused which she and her family accepted.

Justice Tafaoimalo pointed out that an aggravating factor when considering sentencing in the case, is that the offending involved a weapon.

“The accused used a machete to hit the victim. This is an extremely dangerous weapon,” Justice Tafaoimalo said. 

“The attack was unexpected and therefore the victim was vulnerable as she was caught off guard and completely unaware. He hit her while she was lying on the ground and it is by pure luck that she was able to block the strike.”

That the offending took place within the context of a domestic relationship was listed as another aggravating factor. 

Justice Tafaoimalo acknowledged the defendant had already apologised in person to the victim.

“I take this into account as it shows his remorse as expressed to [the] probation [department] and through [his] defence counsel,” he said in his sentencing remarks.

“The apology by the accused to the victim and to her family [...] reveals the accused’s attitude [...] as it shows remorse on his part, indicates that he accepts responsibility for his offending, and has taken steps to make amends to the victim. I accept he is remorseful and that his remorse is genuine.

“I take into account his personal circumstances as well as the testimonials in his favour.”

Justice Tafaoimalo said the starting point for the sentence to be delivered for the chief offence of grievous bodily harm lies at four years imprisonment. 

The Judge said there will be no increase to this median because of the defendant’s previous convictions because they were of a different nature and last occurred 10 years ago.

“I deduct 12 months for his apology and his genuine remorse. He has accepted responsibility for the offence and its consequences,” the Judge said. 

“I deduct 10 months for personal circumstances at the time and his age. I deduct nine months for his guilty pleas.

“Finally I deduct 10 months for mercy and leniency in that since the offence he has had three children, and a wife who speaks highly of him.  

“I do not find that he poses any further threat to the victim in the matter or his wife now. It appears that the dominant reason for the delay in sentencing is that this matter kept falling off the Court’s list. This delay in dealing with this matter is reflected in the deduction for mercy and leniency. “

On the charge of causing grievous bodily harm, the accused was convicted and sentenced to 7 months imprisonment. While the charge of being armed, the accused was convicted and sentenced to 4 months imprisonment. Both sentences were ordered to be served concurrently.

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