The three brothers in the serious bodily harm case of Dave Kanongata’a have been acquitted on all charges at Supreme Court in Nuku’alofa.
Chief Justice Owen Paulsen told Amoni, Tu’iano and Filipe Pau’uvale that they were not guilty of the charges and they were discharged accordingly.
It has been alleged in the indictment ‘Amoni used an iron pipe, Tu’iano used a rock and Filipe used a piece of wood to inflict ‘wounds’ on Kanongata’a
The three accused entered pleas of not guilty and elected trial before a judge sitting alone without a jury.
Mr Paulsen heard testimony for three days from January 22-24 and decided to clear the brothers.
It was alleged that Kanongata’a had used a machete to hit ‘Amoni’s hand causing a deep laceration.
In a previous court case, Kanongata’a was acquitted on that charge.
Aside from this, however, Paulsen said he has not found a resolution of the case easy.
“Part of the reason is the failure of the Crown to call a number of witnesses who were present that night and were witnesses to the events.
“Also I am 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.
“The accused said in re-examination by his counsel, Mr. Tu’utafaiva, that he had taken a medical report to the police at the time it seems he lodged a complaint.
“The officer in charge was unable to confirm whether a complaint had been laid and nor did the Crown adduce evidence to refute that a medical report had been given to the police by the accused.”
Mr Paulsen said he was left in doubt whether Kanongata’a suffered a wound to his head.
Mr Paulsen also said he did not accept the evidence of Kanongata’a and his sister Sauni that the three accused jointly attacked Dave.
“The evidence satisfied me that Filipe, ‘Amoni and Solomone had gone to assist Tu’iano, who was fighting Semisi, and that only Filipe fought Dave and with his fists.”
“There were aspects of the accused’s evidence that I found surprising. For instance, Filipe said he did not see ‘Amoni with a pipe or Dave with the machete. “The judge said he found the Pau’uvales “to be generally credible witnesses.”
“ They said they had not been drinking that night and there was no challenge to this evidence. Their recollection of events was broadly consistent and in the main was plausible.
The prosecution case proceeded on a different basis than the indictments suggested would be the case in two respects.
“First, although the indictments allege that the three accused took part in a joint attack upon Dave and that each had used a certaln weapon (an iron pipe, timber or rock), at trial the prosecution evidence was that only the iron pipe was used on Dave. Also, the indictments allege the infliction of ‘wounds’ upon
“Dave (although this may be a typographical error) but at trial it was alleged that he suffered one wound to the head from being struck by the iron pipe wielded by ‘Amoni, albeit as part of a joint attack by all three accused.”