His Majestyʻs Armed Forces base in Senē, Kolomotuʻa. Photo/Kalino Lātū

A prison sentence was suspended in the case against an army officer a Supreme Court judge said he contributed to the cause of death of a male teenager in Vava’u.

Judge Charles Cato said although violence was involved there was no evidence that Petelō Tapueluelu punched Kelekōlio Fahiua in the head.

“I consider that this case falls in the lower range,” Judge Cato said.

After considering all the circumstances of the offending as well as Tapueluelu’s character, his cooperation and guilty plea the judge said: “I consider it appropriate to fully suspend his sentence.”

Tapueluelu, 28, admitted he unlawfully punched Fahiua, 18, on 30 December 2016 in Neiafu causing serious injuries to his spine. He died in hospital on arrival.

The court was told the deceased and a friend left a dance at a High School and  commenced drinking a bottle of liquor.

Later that evening, the victim left to meet a girlfriend and much later at 3am he met up with his friend at a restaurant for something to eat.

They heard a commotion and went out to investigate. Tapueluelu, who had been drinking that night, also heard the fight and went to break it up.

He was chasing a large number of youths away when the deceased and his friend walked towards him.

Fahiua asked who he was and swore at him.

Tapueluelu, who has served in the Armed  Forces  for  eight years, walked towards him and punched him twice.

An amended summary of facts showed that he punched him towards the head area  but the  deceased  blocked those  punches with  his  hands. The deceased turned around and  walked  about five metres away before collapsing to the ground with his chin first on the· pavement.

Tapueluelu, who has also served in Afghanistan, where he received  HMAF General   Service  Medal, British Operational Service medal, and an  International Security Assistance  Force medal, ran to his aid and with friends took him to hospital.

Mr. Cato sentenced him for one year and nine months imprisonment.

Because Tapueluelu pleaded guilty Mr. Cato allowed him 12 months and also granted him a further 9 months discount for his record of service, his apology and contribution to the funeral, and his good character overall.

Tapueluelu’s lawyer Mr. Sifa Tu’utafaiva told the court he had advised his client not to plead guilty but he had insisted on doing so.

1 COMMENT

  1. Kuo fakatatafe ha tautea ngāue popula ʻi hono fakaʻilo ha sōtia ne pehē ʻe he Fakamaauʻanga Lahi naʻa ne kaunga ki hono fakatupunga ha mate ʻa ha matāpule ʻi Vavaʻu.

    Naʻe tuʻunga ʻeni ʻi he pehē ʻe Fakamaau Charles Cato naʻe ʻikai ha fakamoʻoni taʻetoeveiveiua ne tau ha tuki ʻa Petelō Tapueluelu ʻi he ʻulu ʻo Kelekōlio Fahiua ʻo tupunga ai ʻene mate.

    Ka ne tali halaia pe ʻa Tapueluelu taʻu 28 ki hono tukuakiʻi ia ki he mate ʻa Fahiua taʻu 18.

    Ne hoko ha fepukepukei ʻi Neiafu ʻi he ʻaho 30 Tisema 2016 pea haʻu ai ʻa Tapueluelu ʻa ia ne ne huʻakavaʻia ʻo feinga ke veteki.

    Ne fou atu heni ʻa Fahiua mo hano kaungāmeʻa ʻo iku lau atu ai ʻa e pekia kia Tapueluelu.

    Ne hoko ai heni hano tukuʻi tuʻo ua ʻe Tapueluelu ʻa Fahiua ka ne fakaha ki he fakamaauʻanga ne paleʻi pe ia ʻe Fahiua.

    Naʻe pehe ne mavahe ai heni ʻa Fahiua fakafuofua nai ki he mita ʻe nima ki muʻa pea ne to ki lalo ʻo tau he kauhala.

    Ne lele atu ʻa Tapueluelu mo ha ngaahi kaungameʻa ʻo tokoniʻi e pekia ʻo leleakiʻi ki Fale Mahaki ʻo ne toki mate he tau atu.

    Ko Tapueluelu kuo taʻu valu ʻene fakakaungatāmaki he sōtia pea kuo ne maʻu faingamalie ngāue ai ʻi Afikanisitani o maʻu hono ngaahi mētali ko e HMAF General Service Medal, British Operational Service medal, mo e International Security Assistance Force medal.

    Ne tautea ia ʻe Mr Cato ki he taʻu ʻe taha mahina ʻe hiva kae toloi kotoa ʻeni tuʻunga he tali halaia ʻa Tapueluelu, tokoni ki he fakatotolo naʻe fai, kole fakamolemole, ngaue lelei he tau maluʻi fonua ʻa Tonga, tokoni ki he putu ʻo e pekia pea ko e tangata pe ne lekooti lelei ʻikai hano lekooti faihia.

    Naʻe fakaha foki ki he fakamaauʻanga ne faleʻi ʻe he loea ʻa Tapueluelu ia ke ne tali tonuhia ka ne loto pe ʻa Tapueluelu ke tali halaia pe.

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