Arsonist jailed for three years


A 40-year-old man from Tiavi has been sentenced to jail for three years and eight months. This was after Vaalele Lesa Moli pleaded guilty to arson for burning down a newly built home along with two vehicles in Tiavi. 

Sentencing was handed down by Supreme Court Justice Lesātele Rapi Vaai recently.

He said during sentencing that Moli is no stranger to the Court.

The court’s judgement and sentencing on this matter says that on the 10th April 2012, he was sentenced to a term of 6 years imprisonment on narcotics offenses, and again in 2015 he was given another 3 years sentence to be served cumulatively to his previous sentence, again for narcotic offending. He was released on parole in 2018.

According to the Police summary of facts, the defendant and his friends in a drinking session at the home until the early hours of the next day when the defendant decided to walk to his other house. 

He went into the unoccupied house while the owners were overseas, turned on the gas stove and left the house. According to the summary,

“The defendant saw the flame bursting and thus left the victim’s house with the gas stove being on fire disregarding the victim’s house and properties.The flames grew out of control and enough to consume and damage the victim’s house including two vehicles that were parked inside the garage. A relative of the victim who witnessed the fire alerted the police.

At the time of the offense the victim was overseas leaving her house unoccupied. She had recently built her house which she financed by selling her house in New Zealand.

“According to the victim impact report, NZD$350,000 was originally remitted to Samoa and a further NZD$50,000 was sent.

“Other than the house and the two vehicles destroyed, there was also the boat, washing machine, fridge and freezer, stove, gas cooker, two water tanks and family photos. She said: “To this moment, I am still shocked, heartbroken and depressively overwhelmed at the total senseless destruction this person has done to my home. Not only has he destroyed my home but he has made me homeless.”

The defendant told the Court he did not intend to burn down the house. He was drunk and wanted to light a cigarette; he went inside the house to light his cigarette but he forgot to turn off the stove. It was the next day when the police saw him that he knew about the house. He said he is sorry and remorseful for his wrongdoing. 

Prosecution submits that the conduct of the defendant exhibited complete recklessness when he unlawfully entered the house which he knew was unoccupied, and when he walked away knowing that it was on fire. 

Justice Vaai said the substantial damage and loss has been caused by the fire. It is a complete loss to the victim because the defendant is not in any position to make restitution. 

“Retribution and deterrence must play a dominant role to denounce the conduct, and deter the defendant and others and to protect the community when considering the appropriate custodial period.

“He displayed a completely disturbing disregard for the emotional and financial damage inflicted upon the victim by his offending. 18 The defendant is convicted and sentenced to 3 years and 8 months’ imprisonment. Time spent in custody to be deducted.”