'Road racers' guilty of causing death

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 04 December 2023, 10:00PM

The Supreme Court in Apia has found two men guilty of causing the death of a 23-year-old passenger in a “road race” incident at Leulumoega in  2019. 

Senior Supreme Court Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson recently handed down his verdict on Leulumoega village mayor, Talosagatuufaatasi Faatagi and Mikaele Maiava. 

He found the men guilty of two charges of reckless and dangerous driving and negligent driving, causing the death of Aniseko Sagato. 

Senior Justice Nelson found the men not guilty of one charge of motor manslaughter saying prosecution did not prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt. 

Both of the men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and a hearing was called in June and the verdict was handed down in October. 

Private prosecutor, Leinafo Taimalelagi alleged that on 9 November 2019 the defendants were engaged in a road race or at least in dangerous overtaking manoeuvres on the Leulumoega to Lefaga Cross Island Road, resulting in the fatal road accident.

The deceased Aniseko and the seriously injured Pueata were passengers in the first defendant’s vehicle. Aniseko was sitting behind the first defendant who was the driver and Pueata in the front passenger seat, while the second defendant was alone in his vehicle. 

The dispute in this case related to how the accident was caused and who was responsible for the death and injuries. 

In his judgement, Justice Nelson said the defendants were clearly engaged in a road race. 

He said the prosecution evidence establishes beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants race began at or immediately before the fale-piliaki, continued on past the primary school and over the school hump up to where the two hills are. 

“In this case based on the evidence adduced, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that both defendants owed a duty of care to the occupants of the first defendants vehicle and that by engaging in their road race and these dangerous and reckless manoeuvres, they breached that duty,” said Justice Nelson.  

“They are accordingly guilty of reckless and dangerous driving and negligent driving causing death in that their actions caused the death of the said Aniseko Sagato.” 

Lawyer Muriel Lui represented Maiava and Lucy Sio Ofoia acted for Faatagi. 

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 04 December 2023, 10:00PM
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