Man jailed for over 5 years over security guard's death

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia - Ah Tong, 18 April 2019

A man who was charged with manslaughter over the death of a security guard at a local nightclub has been convicted and sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment. 

Sofi Uale Tuaoi, 22, of Lauli’i and Foailuga was charged with manslaughter, armed with dangerous weapon and throwing an object to the danger of a person. He pleaded guilty to the charges. 

Supreme Court Judge, Justice Leiataualesa Darryl Clarke sentenced Tuaoi Thursday. He was represented by lawyer Charlie Vaai while prosecutor was Fuifui Ioane.  

The defendant was heavily intoxicated on 26 March, 2018 and was refused entry in the Seana Night Club. The deceased, a security guard, was a 41-year-old father of eight from the village of Apia. 

The Court heard that Tuaoi was upset when he was refused entry after he insisted on entering the club. As a result the deceased slapped him with an open hand causing him to fall down. 

The deceased then continued to pick up empty bottles outside the nightclub, while Tuaoi was standing near the club on the roadside. As the deceased was placing bottles into a box, the defendant walked to the deceased, stood at a close range and threw a beer bottle at him striking his head before he ran off.  

Tuaoi was caught by staff of the Seana club and got beaten up, suffering facial injuries for which he was also hospitalised. However, following the assault, the deceased was taken to the hospital and due to the serious injury sustained on his head, he was given medication and released at some point. 

The Court also heard that after the incident the deceased complained constantly to his wife of severe headaches. It wasn’t until 1 June, 2018, when the deceased was taken to hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival due to bleeding in his brain tissue. 

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In sentencing Tuaoi, Justice Leiataualesa made it clear the incident could have been avoided. 

“In this case, I am of the clear view that due to the deceased being a security guard, the prevalence of alcohol fueled violent offending within the community and this type of senseless violence that often accompanies the irresponsible consumption of alcohol which in this case resulted in death…” he said. 

“A life has been lost. It was entirely avoidable and prevalence of this type of senseless alcohol fueled violence in the community calls for a deterrent sentence, particularly given your actions killed a security guard in the course of his work and whose role was to protect the public.”

Justice Leiataualesa cited a sentencing decision by Chief Justice Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu in the case of Police versus Aisea (2006). 

“There, Sapolu stated, likewise, fatal or life-threatening attacks on security officers who are on duty to protect the safety and security of a nightclub and of the members of the public who go to it must also be severely deterred. 

“The safety of security guards for Clubs in Apia is an important consideration and the Court may impose more severe sentences in the future than in this case.”

Justice Leiataualesa also made reference to a victim impact report (V.I.R.) from the wife of the security guard, stating how the death of her husband has affected the family. 

“She says that she and her children have suffered more physical illnesses since her husband died,” he said. 

“Her school age children that her husband use to take to school no longer wish to attend school. They miss their father and she misses her husband. The children range in age from two to 15 years of age”.

Justice Leiataualesa convicted Tuaoi for the charge of manslaughter with five years and three months imprisonment. 

As for the armed with dangerous weapon and throwing an object, Tuaoi was sentenced to two months imprisonment for each charge to be serve concurrently to the manslaughter sentence. 

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia - Ah Tong, 18 April 2019

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