Accused to serve six months after court suspends most of sentence for reckless driving

    The Supreme Court has sentenced Vainiaku ‘Aisea, 38, on a charge of reckless driving causing death and reckless driving causing grievous harm.

    ‘Aisea was sentenced to two years and three months in prison on the first charge and one year and six  months imprisonment on the second charge to be served at the same time.

    The last 21 months of his sentence have been suspended on probation on condition that he not commit any imprisonable offence and that he obey the directives of the probation service.

    He has been disqualified from driving for 12 months.

    The court was told that on July 14 last year ‘Aisea was driving west on the By-Pass Road heading towards Teufavia Park to attend a parade. The speed limit is 40kph, but he was travelling between 50-70 kph.  

    ‘Aisea was following two vehicles and attempted to pass them. There were vehicles coming in the opposite direction and one of those vehicles, a truck, attempted to pass vehicles in front of it.

    Fearing a head on collision, the accused veered to the right and drove off the road into the corner of an intersection where Hinemoa Mahoni, 12, and her sister Katalina Mahoni, 20, were waiting for a bus.

    Hinemoa was crushed between a gate and electric post. Katalina suffered injuries to her arm and was released. Hinemoa never regained consciousness and died the next day.

    The victims’ father came to Court to support Mr.  ‘Aisea and ask that the Court exercise leniency on his behalf.

    “This is a terribly sad case,” Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said.

    “One cannot but have considerable sympathy primarily for the victims and their family, but also for Mr. ‘Aisea who has the burden of living with the guilt of what he has done.”

    The judge said ‘Aisea had provided money and goods in the traditional Tongan manner to the victims’ family and had been forgiven.

    “This is not a case where I can find that Mr. ‘Aisea’s moral culpability was low  nor was the accident the result of a momentary lapse of attention,” the judge said.

    “To fully suspend his sentence would fail to recognise that a human life was lost and another person seriously in jured. It would also  fail  to  deter  others  from  taking unnecessary risk on  the road in similar  circumstances.

    “I do however consider that a  substantial  suspension  of  the  sentence  is justified.”

    The main points

    • The Supreme Court has sentenced Vainiaku ‘Aisea, 38, on a charge of reckless driving causing death and reckless drivingv causing grievous harm.
    • ‘Aisea was sentenced to two years and three months in prison on the first charge and one year and six  months imprisonment on the second charge to be served at the same time. The last 21 months of his sentence have been suspended.

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