Man jailed for axe attack on brother
A man already banished from his village for assaulting his mother and who later attacked his older brother with an axe has been jailed for five years.
Ta’alo Leota, of Letogo and Safotu Savai’i, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to his brother, being armed with a dangerous weapon, namely an axe and stones, and using insulting words.
The decision was delivered by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson.
According to a Police summary of facts, the defendant has been banished from Letogo since December 2019 for assaulting his own mother.
The court heard that the defendant’s brother became upset upon arriving home from work and finding Leota at their house.
This led to a dispute within the family leading to the defendant being chased out by his uncle.
The defendant then approached his older brother from behind with an axe and delivered a blow to the left side of his face.
The victim was taken to the hospital where he sustained a deep laceration on the left side of his face requiring eight stitches.
Justice Vui noted that the victim has since forgiven his brother and the two have since reconciled.
He said this however does not erase the fact that this was a violent assault by an out-of-control defendant on an unsuspecting and unarmed family member from behind.
One aggravating factor of the offence taken into account in the sentencing was the defendant aiming one of the blows he delivered directly at his brother’s head.
The court considered that if it wasn’t for a family member calling out to warn the victim that strike would likely have been fatal.
“The defendant arming himself with an axe also indicates a pre-meditated not reflective action,” the Judge said.
“It is a further aggravating factor that at the time of this offending the defendant had been banished from the village meaning he should not have been in the family home in the first place.
“It is clear from what I have read the defendant obviously has a drinking problem.”
But the court, unfortunately, is in no position to assist with fixing that, Justice Vui said, adding that he hoped prison authorities will reinstate alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs to help the accused.
“Ultimately the solution to the defendant’s problem lies in his own hands and my advice to you Ta’alo is if you act like this when you are drunk, stop drinking,” he said.
The court took seven years as its starting point for determining a sentence for the charge of grievous bodily harm.
Justice Vui said it was obvious the defendant had a history of problems within his village and family.
“No son should ever raise his hand against his mother or his brother,” he said.
“You obviously have not been sufficiently schooled in the “tū and aganu’u fa’a-Samoa” (the customs and traditions of the society that we live in) in this country which we as Judges of the country are entirely capable of safeguarding and applying in appropriate cases.
“Despite the incorrect and evidentially unsubstantiated view of some to the contrary.”
The court deducted time for the defendant’s apology and his early guilty plea.
“I do that in recognition of the fact that your plea demonstrates remorse and avoids the necessity for the victim and members of your family to have to relive these unfortunate events,” he said.
Justice Vui sentenced the accused to five years’ imprisonment for the offences.
Leota was represented by Leota Tima Leavai while Veiuto Faasii of the Office of the Attorney-General was the prosecutor.