Court grants bail for drug defendant Afualo Darryl Mapu


Acting Chief Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has granted bail for drug defendant Afualo Darryl Mapu arrested by Police following a drug raid at his residence in Nu’u last December.

Afualo, the Assistance Electoral Commissioner is charged together with Marie Fanueli another employee of the Electoral Commission office.

The decision was handed down by the court today.

The defendants are charged with in relation to the narcotics count and its alleged he was in possession of a quantity of methamphetamine (weighing at least 1.6 grams), 2 glass pipes an assortment of unlawful weapons, pistols, a shotgun, a semi-automatic) and live ammunitions.

The co-defendant has been released on pre-trial bail with the consent of the Police who however “oppose” the defendant’s release from custody.

Afualo is a first-time offender, has no previous conviction or history of drug offending and holds a senior position in the Samoa Public Service.

His counsel Tofilau Leone Su’a-Mailo says he’s not a flight risk and his continued detention is having adverse financial and other consequences upon him and his family.

He has also filed an affidavit from a tenant of his house that the narcotics and weapons belong to him and not the defendant and the court has questioned why this was not previously revealed to the Police.

Justice Nelson says to apply section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2016 to this case in any case of non-appearance: given that the defendant lives in Samoa, is married with children, owns his own house and is in meaningful employment, it appears the defendant would pose a minimal flight risk.

There is no apparent reason why the defendant would fail to appear in Court.

Furthermore his travel documents would be surrendered and other measures put in place as part of a bail process.

Even given that occasionally these are not foolproof measures, the travel and other restrictions that currently operate due to the Covid pandemic would make life that much more difficult for potential absconders.

Defendants counsel also assured the court from the Bar that the defendant only has a Samoan passport and is therefore not eligible for visa-free travel.

“Witnesses interference: although raised by the prosecution in their Submissions as a ground, there was nothing by way of evidence adduced to substantiate the Police concerns.

In any event, the majority of the Prosecution witnesses would be the Police officers who partook in the raid.”

Justice Nelson says the Prosecution suggestion that the defendant could interfere with Police confidential informers was again not supported by any reliable factual.

The prosecution placed much reliance on this in their opposition but their arguments were based on the fact that the defendant was a proven drug user/addict who should not be allowed to return home “to the scene of the crime” as it were.

These are things which the defendant denies as he does ownership and possession of the narcotics and weapons.

His position is there was no crime, the materials discovered by the Police belong to his tenant. He is of course entitled to the Constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The issue is however muddled by affidavits filed by the defendant about potential treatment and support in relation to any drug addiction.

The prosecution point to the fact that the methamphetamine was found on the defendants person and that he was inside the relevant room, now said by the defendants tenant to be part of the unit annexed to the defendants home which he rents.

Justice Nelson pointed out question on why the defendant did not have possession of pants before the Police arrived was not explained but these are questions to be determined at the eventual trial of this matter when all relevant matters will be revealed.

This is not a case where the facts clearly show the defendant has no defence to the charges and the probability of conviction is high. This is not the appropriate stage in the criminal process for fine measurements of credibility or evaluating in detail the merits of the prosecution and defence evidence. That is a matter for trial.

Justice Nelson ruled the court is not satisfied there is just cause for the defendants continued remand in custody.

In the exercise of the courts discretion the defendant will be granted bail on the following conditions to be strictly adhered by Afualo is to surrender any and all travel documents to the Registrar of the Court to be held pending final determination of these charges.

The Registrar to immediately issue a Departure Prohibition Order as against the defendant; and to pay a bond of $5,000 for the defendant and $2,500 each surety guaranteeing the good behaviour of the defendant until final disposition of this matter.