Reasonable doubt leads to acquittal in Hōfoa machete attack

'Oku 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga ki he talanoa' ni

A Supreme Court judge deemed that the prosecution had not been thorough enough to remove reasonable doubt from his mind and so he could not grant a conviction.

Judge Charles Cato made the decision on Tuesday while presiding a court case in which a man was accused of attacking another man with a machete.

Dave ‘Īsoa Kanongata’a stood trial before Mr Cato  on one count of causing serious bodily harm after he struck ‘Amoni Pau’uvale with a machete on 11 September 2017 at Hōfoa

The court was told  ‘Amoni, his brother Filipe Pau’uvale and others were playing cards late in the evening when he heard noise from outside.

‘Amoni, the complainant, said he saw what appeared to be his younger brother, Tuiano, involving in a fight around the road area.

‘Amoni and his group went outside to investigate before he saw his brother fighting with the accused and a brother of the accused who lived across the road.

Tuiano was restrained and it seems that the fight broke up.

‘Amoni said somebody threw an iron pipe into the area which he picked up. He pursued the accused  and others with the iron pipe across the road and into their property.

He said he chased them to scare them off with the pipe which was about two and a half feet long.

At one stage, he saw the accused chased his brother Filipe with a machete.

As the accused and Filipe ran past him he tried to strike the accused’s machete.

‘Amoni said that the accused retaliated by bringing his arm which was positioned upwards down and it connected with his left arm.

The court was told the accused was drunk that night and was angry that he and his brother had been injured.

A witness told  the court she had lived nearby and she saw the accused falling on the ground and was hit by the complainant several times.

She later saw him struggling with ‘Amoni when the accused used the machete and ‘Amoni blocked it with his hand.

In his ruling Mr Cato said:  “It was plain and not in dispute that the accused did with a machete strike the hand of the complainant ‘Amoni Pau’uvale during the incident and I am satisfied this plainly qualified as a wound.

“I am satisfied and it was not in dispute that this wound was caused by the complainant putting up his left hand in a defensive manner to prevent the accused striking him with the machete.

“Aside from this, however, I have not found a resolution of the case easy. Part of the reason is the failure by the Crown to call a number of witnesses who were present that night and were witness to the events.

“This may have been because the police failed to take statements from a number of potential witnesses to events thereby restricting the prosecution case.”

Mr Cato said he was  left in doubt as to whether prior to the wounding, the accused as he had alleged, did in fact suffer an injury to the head from a steel bar carried at the time by the complainant, ‘Amoni Pau’uvale.

“I also do not dismiss entirely that in picking up the machete he was trying to drive his neighbours away. I am left in a state of doubt as to his state of mind at the time he wielded the machete and struck the hand of the complainant.

“In these circumstances, with both weapons capable of causing serious harm, and for the reasons I have given I am unable to say the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt has negatived self-defence and I acquit the accused.

“He is discharged.”


  1. Ne hoko e veiveiua ‘a e Fakamaau Lahi Charles Cato ke hao ai ‘a Dave ‘Isoa Kanongata’a mei hano tautea hili ‘ene taa’i’aki ha helepelu ‘a ‘Amoni Pau’uvale.

    Na’e fakamahino ‘e Cato ne ‘ikai toe veiveiua ‘ene tui na’e taa’i’aki ‘e Kanongata’a ‘a e helepelu’ ‘a Pau’uvale ‘o lavea.

    Ka ne ‘ikai lava ‘e he ngaahi fakamatala ne ‘ohake ‘e he talatalaaki he hopo’ ke ne fakahalaki ene tui na’e fai ‘eni e taa ‘e Kanongata’a ke malu’i ia.

    Kuo ‘ikai ai ke ne lava solova ‘a e keisi’ ni pea ko e konga e ‘uhinga ki ai’ ko e tō nounou ‘a e kalauni’ ke ui ‘a e kau fakamo’oni ne nau sio tonu he taa’.

    Na’e toe pehē ‘e he fakamāu’ na’a’ ne toe veiveiua ki he tūkunga fakakaukau ne ‘i ai ‘a e faka’iloa’ he taimi ne ne fakahoko ai ‘a e taa’ pea ‘ikai lava ‘e he talatalaaki’ ‘o fakamo’oni’i ta’etoeveiveiua na’e ‘ikai fai ‘a e tā helepelu’ ni ‘e Kanongata’a ke malu’i ia.


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