A jail sentence was the only way to deter school violence, the Supreme Court has been told.

Soane Patita Toutai’olepo was sentenced to one year in jail for his part in an attack on a  truck carrying Tupou College student.

Lord Chief Justice Whitten said  it would be inappropriate to suspend any of the sentence.

This would risk sending a message that if somebody causes serious injury by taking part in school violence, they could escape prison time.

“If that ever was the belief, it must be dispelled,” the judge said.

“Such mindless violence must not continue.

“It is incumbent on the Court to apply the law in a manner which reinforces that community expectation and which serves to protect all school students from street violence initiated for no other reason than that they different schools.”

Toutai’olepo was one of a group of Tonga College students who threw rocks at a truck carrying Tupou College students home after a school sports competition.

The accused threw a large rock at the truck which hit 12 years-old Lata ‘i Lapaha Funakia. He was knocked unconscious and was rushed to Vaiola Hospital where surgeons operated for a compound depressed fracture to the left side of his skull.

The court was told that conflicts between school was a serious problem in Tonga.

The victim’s father said despite the fact that Toutai’olepo had not apologised, they had forgiven him

When arrested he cooperated with police.

In sentencing the accused, the judge said he had to provide an  opportunity for rehabilitation and deter others from future acts of violence between rival schools.

Toutai’olepo was sentenced to two years in prison. The second year of the sentence was suspended. Two weeks were deducted from the first year of prison because of time already spent in jail.

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