Samoan to be deported after murder sentence

A Samoan man who was found guilty of stabbing a man to death and jailed in New Zealand for 13 years will be deported back to Samoa in 2026.

Esau Vailagilala, who was 19 years of age at the time of an incident in 2011, tackled a John Li’a to the ground after a birthday party in New Zealand’s Mt Roskill according to Radio New Zealand.

He was then joined by two other men and they used weapons to attack and stab the victim who bled to death.

Vailagilala who is now aged 28 arrived in New Zealand in 2009 through adoption by his aunt.

Among the family members he will leave behind in New Zealand when he is released from his 13-year sentence for murder in 2026 and deported is his twin brother.

The immigration and protection tribunal heard from the twin about their special bond, saying he felt as though a part of him was missing since his brother was jailed in 2013.

According to Radio New Zealand, a psychologist explained identical twins were "as close as two people can be [...] They often make the comment that being an identical twin 'is like having a built-in best friend for life'. [Vailagilala and his twin] have spent their entire life together up until the date of his incarceration. It is obvious that their entire lives together has resulted in them being both psychologically and emotionally very close."

In addition, by 2026, on the appellant's earliest release from prison, he will have spent nearly 17 years in New Zealand.

The tribunal ruled that his close family links in New Zealand amounted to exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature, but said that had to be balanced against the gravity of his crime.

After his trial, the sentencing judge said it was clear he had started the 2011 attack by tackling the man to the ground before his co-defendants joined in, reports Radio New Zealand.

"It was a nasty, murderous assault and it was three on to one. It continued through and beyond a stage where [the victim] would have been totally unable to defend himself having been overwhelmed by serious force used against him."

The tribunal ruled it was not unduly harsh or unfair for him to be deported.

"In the appellant's case, murder is a very serious crime and his offending was a serious example of its type, which he committed within two years of his arrival in New Zealand."

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