Man jailed after vicious machete attack in Tongatapu

A man has been jailed after he attacked a teenager in Tongatapu with a machete.

‘Inivenesi Helu was sentenced to two-year imprisonment at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court on March 5 after he swung a machete and hit Tevita Hafoka’s right arm. The last 12 months of his sentence were suspended on condition.

Helu pleaded guilty to one count of causing serious bodily harm.

The dramatic incident unfolded on 12 July 2020, at about 3.30pm after Hafoka, Siua Moimoi and Tevita Fuafili were approached by a woman at a Chinese shop complaining that Siua’s younger brother, Moli, took her vehicle. Not long after, Moli arrived in a vehicle with Helu.

Siua punched Moli which resulted in Helu taking a baseball bat from the vehicle and chasing Siua. After an altercation between Helu and Siua, Helu left.

People, including Hafoka, started to gather. They saw Helu return to where the crowd had gathered. Helu yelled in Tongan “drink like people ‘ who have pubic hair”.

When no one responded, Helu punched 17-year-old Hafoka. Hafoka then ran out on the road and challenged Helu to a fight. Helu walked over to the victim and produced a machete. As Hafoka turned to run, Helu swung the machete and hit Hafoka’s right arm. Helu chased Hafoka but could not catch him.

Hafoka was taken to hospital where he was treated for a seven cm deep laceration which required internal and external sutures.

Later that day, Helu was arrested. The following day, his mother and de facto partner apologised to the Hafoka’s mother.

In sentencing Helu Lord Chief Justice Whitten said he is to be given credit for any time spent in custody on remand in relation to this matter.

“The final 12 months of the said sentence will be suspended for a period of 2 years on condition that during that suspension period, the Defendant is:

(a) not to commit any offence punishable by imprisonment;

(b) be placed on probation;

(c) report to the probation office within 48 hours of his release from prison;

(d) reside where directed by his probation officer; and

(e) complete a course on alcohol awareness and life skills as directed by his probation officer.

Failure to comply with the above conditions will likely result in the Defendant being required to serve the suspended period of his term of imprisonment.”

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