Too many charges may confuse jury in machete murder trial, says Supreme Court judge

    'Oku taupotu 'i lalo ha fakamatala faka-Tonga

    A Supreme Court judge has criticised the number of indictments brought in a murder case, saying they could confuse the jury.

    Mr Justice Cato said there was also some merit in a complaint by defence lawyer Clive Edwards that the accused had been prejudiced by the multiple counts against them and an unnecessarily long winded indictment.

    Halahone Taliai and Sione Vea were brought before the court on multiple charges relating to the death of ʻAiveni Teisina during a machete attack in a parking lot in Vaini on October 23, 2016.

    As Kaniva Tonga News reported at the time Teisina died from his injuries at Vaiola Hospital on October 24, 2016.

    He was survived by his wife and a four-year old daughter.

    Mr Justice Cato said Crown accepted that Taliai was responsible for the victim’s death by machete wounds. Vea used a hammer to also effect  injury, but not any fatal injury.

    He said the Crown had laid four alternative counts of murder against Taliai.

    He said two of the charges were unnecessary and there seemed to be no point in a third.

    “The danger of  the  present indictment of multiple murder counts is that it is confusing and may cause the jury difficulty in arriving at unanimous verdicts,” the judge said.

    The jury could convict Talia of murder if they found he had murderous intent and caused Teisina’s death.

    If the jury was not  satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Taliai was guilty of murder, he could be convicted of manslaughter if they thought he caused the death of the victim by deliberately committing an unlawful act that  resulted  in  death.

    Mr Justice Cato also questioned the indictments brought against Vea. He said it was wrong to separately indict for several counts of murder.

    “Each accused should face one count of murder, manslaughter as an alternative and a lesser offence, grievous bodily harm or serious harm as an alternative to  manslaughter,” he said.

    “I consider  that  the  present  counts in the indictment may give rise to confusion, error in principle, and also there is an element as Mr Edwards complained of prejudice occasioned by an unnecessarily  prolix  indictment  and several counts in relation to each man of   murder.”


    1. Kuo fakaanga’i ‘e ha fakamaau lahi ‘a e fu’u lahi ‘o e ngaahi faka’ilo kuo fai kau ki hono fakapoongi ‘o e tangata ko ‘Aiveni Teisina ‘i Vainī ‘i ‘Okatopa 2016, ‘o ne pehē ‘e fakatupunga ai ha puputu’u ‘a e kau sula’.

      Pehē ‘e Fakamaau Cato ‘oku ‘i ai e mo’oni ia he ngaahi taukave ‘a e loea ma’a e ongo tukuaki’i fakapoo’ ‘o pehē kuo fakakehekehe’i kinaua ‘i he fu’u lahi ‘a hona ngaahi faka’ilo’ pea ‘oku ta’e’uhinga hono toe toutou tā ‘o e faka’ilo mei tatau.

      Kuo ‘i he fakamaau’anga’ ‘a Halahone Taliai mo Sione Vea ko e faka’ilo ki he pekia ‘a Teisina’ hili ‘eni ha ‘ohofi helepelu mo ha tā hāmala ‘i ha tau’anga me’alele ‘i Vainī ‘i ‘Okatopa 23, 2016.

      ‘Oku tukuaki’i ko Taliai na’a’ ne fakahoko ‘a e tā helepelu ‘o mate ai ‘a Teisina’ pea tokoni ki ai ‘a Vea ‘i hono tā’aki e hāmala’.

      Hangē ko ia ne līpooti ‘e he Kaniva’ he ‘aho ko ia’, na’e mate ‘a Teisina ‘i fale mahaki he ‘aho hono hoko’ tupu mei hono ngaahi kafo’.


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