Man pleads guilty in double death trial

DT
By Deidre Tautua-Fanene, 19 July 2017

The man accused over the death of a mother and her son in Savai’i who died when he crashed into a vehicle they were travelling in has pleaded guilty to two charges of motor manslaughter.

Sinei Aunei, 42, of Iva and Neiafu, entered the guilty plea before the Chief Justice His Honor Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu in the Supreme Court.

Aunei is represented by lawyer Leota Tima Leavai.

The Prosecutor is lawyer Fuifui Ioane of the Attorney General’s Office.

During the hearing, Leota informed the Court her client pleads guilty to the two original charges.

But she expressed surprise about two additional charges against her client.

“I’ve already indicated to them our decision with regards to two additional charges,” Leota said.

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“Our plea with regards to the two original charges is guilty. Just for the clarification of the Court the guilty plea is for motor manslaughter.”

Leota added that the additional charges of negligent driving causing injury were unnecessary.

 “So I see no point for the prosecution to file negligent driving causing injury on the deceased.”

Ms. Ioane argued that the additional charges are specific charges not alternative.

This attracted a reaction from the Chief Justice.

“Can’t the principle charges be the motor manslaughter and the two original charges which are lesser charges alternative charges in case the motor manslaughter charges are not proven,” His Honour Patu told the prosecutor.

“Then the prosecution could rely on the lesser charges but if motor manslaughter is proven and the two lesser charges are part and parcel of the same offence then what is the point of the lesser charges?

“What I’m saying is if the motor manslaughter charges are treated as incidents and those are established by the prosecution, is there any point then in carrying on with the lesser charges?”

The matter has since been adjourned until 21 August 2017 for sentencing before Justice Mata Tuatagaloa.

DT
By Deidre Tautua-Fanene, 19 July 2017

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