Court places man on probation for setting hut alight

The Supreme Court has placed a man on probation for setting fire to a faleo'o (traditional hut) in Vailu’utai. 

The judgment against Fonotele Ulaula was handed down by Justice Leiataualesa Darryl Clarke, who placed the defendant on probation after setting a faleo’o on fire.

According to the Police summary of facts, in June this year at around 10pm, the defendant wilfully trespassed on the complainant’s land and ignited a fire on the faleo’o. 

At the time of the offence, the complainant was in his home which was about 10 to 15 meters from the hut.

“You went to the faleo’o and ignited a fire there, lighting the faleo’o which caught on fire and this engulfed the top right part of the hut. You ignited the fire by lighting a palm leaf of the faleo’o. 

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"You then fled the scene. You explained in your pre-sentence report that you were angry with the complainant in this matter. 

"You had been reported by the complainant to the village council for drinking alcohol outside of the village council meeting house,” stated the police report read out by Justice Leiataualesa. 

“Unfortunately for you, the complainant saw the commotion and rushed outside and put out the fire before the rest of the hut caught fire.” 

The defendant has completed the Salvation Army alcohol programme. 

“While your offending is very serious, you will be given a second chance. In giving you a second chance, it is clear that alcohol and drugs was a key cause of your offending," said Justice Leiataualesa.

"I encourage you not to consume alcohol and certainly do not do so in the way you did on this occasion leading you to commit this offending. It will only lead you to further offending and coming back before the Court." 

Consequently, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to 12 months supervision for arson, but on the condition that he carries out 80 hours of community work with the Samoa Victim Support Group. The defendant was also ordered to pay $200 in default for 1 week imprisonment for the willful trespass charge. 

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