Vava‘u man convicted after royal palace $28,400 fine mats worth robbery

A man charged with two counts of serious housebreaking and theft in Vava’u had been convicted.

‘Alefosio Vaiangina, 44, is expected to be sentenced next month after he allegedly stole expensive fine mats valued at TOP$28,400 from the king’s palace in Neiafu, on October 2017.

The Police charged Vaiangina after the following koloa went missing from the palace on October 26:

(a) 1 x Ngatu launima (50 ft tapa);

(b) 3 x Fuatanga toka 20 (20 ft tapa);

(c) 4 x Fuatanga toka 10 (10 ft tapa);

(d) 2 x Fala fute 30 (30 ft mat);

(e) 4 x Fala fute 20 (20 ft mat);

(f) 3 x Fala fute 15 (15 ft mat);

(g) 4 x Fala fute 12 (12 ft mat); and

(h) 2 x Lotaha fisi (Fijian mat).

“None of the koloa have been returned”, the court was told.

Vaiangina denied stealing the handicrafts saying that at the time of the robbery he was in Tongatapu, living with his sister and his sister’s husband.

However, he made a few changes in court to his alibi saying that his earlier reference to 2019 was a ‘mistake’ and that he began living with them ‘ages ago’.

He later said that he lived with them from ‘July 2017 and that in 2018, he married and moved with his wife to Manuka in Tongatapu. Later again, the Accused changed that start date from July 2017 to ‘September 2017.

Convicting the accused, Lord Chief Justice Whitten said:  “I found the accused to be an unimpressive witness and his evidence unreliable. The numerous inconsistencies in his evidence about when he started living with his sister and her husband spoke for themselves. Neither of them supported him by giving evidence”.

 The convict attempted to dispute the truth and validity of the fingerprint evidence Police provided to the court.

“However, I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Crown has proved the elements of the 2017 offences, including, critically, that it was the Accused who committed them”, Mr Whitten said.

“For the reasons stated, I find the Accused guilty on both counts”.

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