Wrongfully imprisoned man changes plea

A man accused of causing grievous bodily harm while he was wrongfully imprisoned for more than four years has moved to vacate his guilty plea.

The defendant, Sio Agafili, appeared for what was supposed to be sentencing on Friday but his lawyer, Muriel Lui, said they wanted to vacate his guilty plea. 

Agafili was recently released from prison after he was found to have been unlawfully detained for more than four years.

While he was in prison, it is alleged the defendant assaulted someone in the facility.

While he was unrepresented, Agafili was charged with causing grievous bodily harm.

He had pleaded guilty to the charge unrepresented.

But appearing with legal representation Agafili said he now wished to change his plea to not guilty. 

Supreme Court Justice Mata Tuatagaloa, who was to hand down sentencing on Friday, gave the defence three weeks to file the application.

The matter must be re-mentioned and a date for hearing must be set.

Agafili’s next court appearance, for mention, is scheduled for 17 August, 2020.

The prosecutor on the case is Ann Matalasi from the Attorney General’s Office. 

His unlawful detention was uncovered by Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke after reviewing Agafili’s file upon appearing in court over an incident at the Tanumalala Prison.

Agafili was sentenced in 2008 for five years for burglary and theft.

While in prison, he re-offended and was later convicted of indecently assaulting another male prisoner at Tafaigata prison in 2015. That sentence was ordered to be served concurrently with his earlier crime.

According to Court records, the father of three was supposed to be released from jail in December 2015. That didn’t happen and he continued to serve time without knowing when his imprisonment term expires.



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