Court asked to jail wife-killer for 6-plus years

The Supreme Court has been asked to jail a Lalomanu man for six-and-a-half years for killing his wife during a domestic violence incident.

The submission was made by lawyer, Fuifui Ioane, of the Attorney General’s Office, before Supreme Court Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma in the case of Sosene Lione Lu’itau.

The court has adjourned sentencing for one week on the request of the defence counsel, Mauga Precious Chang, who wanted to review the prosecution's sentencing memorandum.

Ioane asked the court for a non-custodial sentence last week. But that was before the prosecution was made aware of the defendant's previous conviction for assault against the same victim – his wife who is now deceased.

In their amended sentencing memorandum, the prosecution is seeking six-and-a-half years.

Mauga noted the stark difference from the non-custodial sentence and asked the court to adjourn sentencing for one week so she can review the sentencing memorandum from the prosecution.

The prosecution's sentencing memorandum justifies the six-and-a-half years starting point for sentencing.

Last week, Mauga said the defendant did not intend to kill his wife.

Prosecution is relying on a previous case, the Police V. Taumaloto case, in which sentencing began at nine years imprisonment for a man who slapped his wife once, causing her death.

Justice Fepulea’i asked why the case was not referred to in earlier sentencing submissions from the prosecution. The facts, he said, are relevant and almost similar to Lu’itau’s case.

In the Taumaloto case, he said, there was “a slap, just like this case.”

“But in that case, prosecution recommended a custodial sentence from a starting point of nine years,” said Justice Fepulea’i, “Which is in complete contrast to your earlier recommendation for a non-custodial sentence."

Lu’itau’s matter was adjourned from last week in response to an application for prosecution to review their sentencing memorandum.

“It is a matter of concern because there was a similar case…a sentencing decision in a similar case in the Supreme Court from December 2017 in which they recommended nine years imprisonment as a starting point,” Justice Fepulea’i said.

“That case was not referred to prosecution’s earlier sentencing memorandum but in its amended sentencing memorandum which has now been received by the court.”

He granted the application from the defence, for an adjournment. Sentencing for Lu’itau is scheduled for 12.30pm on 5 August, 2020.

He was remanded on bail and told to abide by his bail conditions.

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