The Supreme Court has acquitted three men of all charges except common assault following the death of a man.
Peau La’iafi, Nivaleti Tu’iono and Sione Kapa’ivai were each indicted each on counts of manslaughter, alternatively grievous bodily harm and in the alternative common assault.
The court was told that on or about June 15 2017 at Pelehake, they caused the death of Manu Grewe.
Grew was hit him on the head with a chair and repeatedly punched in the face and mouth, fracturing his left jaw, which ultimately led him to asphyxiate.
In his report on the case, Lord Chief Justice Cato said it had come to the notice of the accused that the deceased had sexually assaulted the young daughter of Tu’iono, who together with his two co-accused, Lai’afi and Kapa’ivai, and the deceased, worked on his plantation.
Grewe had admitted the assault, and after a period of drinking toge’ther at the home of Tu’iono, the atmosphere changed at about 2am when the deceased with the accused present, called out to the accused’s daughter.
Tu’iono began punching him to his face. La’iafi then kicked him in the mouth with his boot, after asking him to apologise and slapped him several times on the face. After that Kapa’ivai punched him on the head and in the mouth and hit him on the head with a chair. He also said that he slammed his body around.
Tu’iono went to bed after Kapa’ivai stopped him assaulting the deceased. Kapa’ivai started beating the deceased. During this time La’iafi left and was taken home.
It was not until about 8-9pm the next day that the deceased was taken to hospital. He was unconscious and died about midnight.
An internal examination of the deceased by a pathologist found that he had inhaled food which had blocked his breathing passage.
The original pathologist was unable to present at the trial. The judge said the assaults were not discussed with him and he wrote his brief report without any reference to the assaults on the accused, or how they may have contributed to the cause of death.
The prosecution said it was unable to take the matter any further or prove a cause of death. As a result, the charge of manslaughter or grievous bodily harm were then dropped.
Mr Justice Cato said the assaults were discrete, were perpetrated individually and the men were not acting as accessories, aiding and abetting or giving wilful support to another in a joint attack.
“Because the Crown is unable to adduce evidence which at its highest is evidence from which a jury could infer that each man made a material contribution to the cause of death, I consider that no prima facie case had been established on counts one and two manslaughter or grievous bodily harm,” the judge said.
“No satisfactory causal connection had been advanced as to the accused’s actions and the death of Mr Grewe which took place many hours after and was said to be asphyxiation.”
Each of the accused pleaded guilty to common assault and were convicted on the third count in the indictment.
The main points
- The Supreme Court has acquitted three men of all charge except common assault following the death of a man.
- Peau La’iafi, Nivaleti Tu’iono and Sione Kapa’ivai were each indicted each on counts of manslaughter, alternatively grievous bodily harm and in the alternative common assault.