Board Director fined for assaulting bureaucrat

Samoa Housing Corporation Board Director, Leaupepe Sosefina Tualaulelei, has been fined $2000 for causing actual bodily harm of a Legislative Assembly staff member.

District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Viane-Papalii, sentenced Leaupepe with the condition that she will be discharged without conviction after the fine is paid before Friday this week.

Leaupepe was fined together with her sister and co-defendant Tamara Laupepa, for assaulting the Legislative Assembly’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Asolupe Semaia in September last year.

Her sister, Ms. Laupepa was ordered to pay $1000 by Friday before the Judge can order a discharge without conviction. 

According to the Police summary of facts, Leaupepe had found text messages between the alleged victim and her husband the night before the incident. 

The Court heard that Leaupepe’s husband, who is also the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, works with the alleged victim. 

The probation report noted that Leaupepe had gone to the Office of the Legislative Assembly at Mulinuu on 31 September 2019 with Ms. Laupepa to discuss the text messages with the alleged victim.

During the cause of doing that an altercation occurred, where Ms. Semaia was allegedly assaulted by the two defendants, with the staff of the Legislative Assembly Office hearing the commotion. 

The victim impact report stated that Ms. Semaia felt humiliated by the incident and had to take a break from work. 

Both women accused of the offending had filed applications for a discharge without conviction.

Leaupepe, through her lawyer Leilani Tamati, submitted that her employment will be impacted if  she got a conviction. She is employed by the KVA Consult and is also a Samoa Housing Corporation Board Director.

Similarly with Ms. Laupepa she applied for a discharge of conviction, claiming automatic termination of her services by her employee if she was convicted. Lawyer Diana Roma represented Ms. Laupepa, who currently works for the Public Service Commission. 

In considering the gravity of the offending, Judge Alalatoa said she is satisfied that it is at the lower end of the scale. 

She acknowledged that Leaupepe took an anger management programme which is in her favour. 

Furthermore, she said that the prosecution should have considered the assault charge rather than causing actual bodily harm considering the injuries sustained by the victim. 

“Although there was no reconciliation but there was an attempt from Sosefina to reconcile with the victim,” she said. 

“Both repeatedly demonstrated remorse and knew that what they did was wrong and it was an error of judgment.” 

In sentencing the women, Judge Alalatoa said there are much better ways to deal with such situations than violence. 

Leaupepe was ordered to pay $2000 to the alleged victim plus $300 court costs and $200 for police costs. 

Ms. Laupepa has also been asked to pay $500 to the alleged victim, $300 for court costs and $200 for prosecution.  

Judge Alalatoa instructed the women to appear before her on Friday with receipts of the payments made before she can order a discharge without conviction. 

Prosecutor was the Attorney General’s Office lawyer, Iliganoa Atoa. 

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