The Supreme Court has sentenced Hateni Kaufusi to five years and nine months for manslaughter.
The last two years of the sentence have been suspended.
The sentence has been backdated to February 5, 2018.
Kaufusi was acquitted of murder.
In his report on the case, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said that on February 4, 2018 at Te’ekiu, Kaufusi caused the death of Tolifili Tu’alau when he unlawfully stabbed him in the back with a pair of scissors, causing his death.
In the early afternoon of February 4, 2018 Kaufusi was roasting a pig at Vaotu’u to welcome relatives. Tu’alau and another man arrived and they began a drinking session.
Tu’alau insisted that Kaufusi drive him to Pea, despite Kaufusi explaining that his car had no petrol. Kaufusi relented and they set off, but the car ran out of petrol at Liahona and they pushed it to a nearby house.
While Kaufusi was inside the house, Tu’alau had the car towed to his home at Vaotu’u, leaving him at Liahona. During this time the car window was broken.
Kaufusi was able to get a ride back to Vaotu’u and made arrangements with some acquaintances to have his car towed to his home at Te’ekiu. He learned that the car had been damaged and there was an altercation between him and Tu’alau.
The two men made up and apologised to each other. Tu’alau agreed to repair the damage to the ca, which was pushed to the road and made ready to be towed.
Kaufusi said he was surprised when the deceased got into the car for the journey to Te’ekiu and he told him to get out, but he refused.
They towed the car to Te’ekiu and the car was pushed to the rear of the property and Kaufusi and Tu’alau were left alone.
Kaufusi told the deceased he had caused all the problems with the car and the deceased gave a smart answer back and said that Kaufusi should take part in fixing the car.
Kaufusi said he would make a complaint against the deceased. The deceased then lunged forward at him with something in his hand, which turned out to be a pair of scissors.
They argued further and Kaufusi threw a plate at the deceased which hit him in the forehead. He then tackled the deceased who fell back on to chairs.
Kaufusi was on top of the deceased and tried to snatch the scissors from the deceased. He forced the deceased’s hand down and the scissors sank into the deceased’s leg, causing a wound.
Kaufusi was able to snatch the scissors but was punched and thrown to the ground. Tu’alau was on top of him, strangling him, so he used the scissors to stab the deceased. He intended to stab him in the shoulder, but in fact stabbed him in the back.
Kaufusi lifted Tu’alau into a chair and applied pressure to the wound, which was bleeding heavily, and called for help.
He found a neighbour with a flat bed truck who was prepared to help. Tu’alau was taken to the hospital, but died on arrival.
Kaufusi went into the hospital to get the doctor and a bed for the deceased.
He then returned to Te’ekiu and was arrested early the next morning.
A post mortem found that the cause of death was excessive loss of blood due to the stab wound in the back.
Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said Kaufusi was entitled to some credit for his previous record and that because he was genuinely and deeply remorseful and that he was cooperative with the Police.
“In addition Mr. Kaufusi and his family have made peace with the deceased’s widow and her family and in Tongan custom have provided gifts,” he said.
The last two years of Kaufusi’ sentence on condition he not use alcohol or drugs, that he successfully complete an anger management course and a course on drugs and alcohol abuse.
If he fails to comply with these conditions he may have to serve the rest of his sentence.
The main points
- The Supreme Court has sentenced Hateni Kaufusi to five years and nine months for manslaughter.
- The last two years of the sentence have been suspended.
- Kaufusi had originally been charged with murder.