Man jailed for assault of another man, who lost sight in one eye


A man convicted of assaulting another man who lost sight in one eye, after a fight over a bottle of Rover Vodka has been sentenced to four years in jail. 

Masua Matagi of Aele Fou pleaded guilty to charges of grievous bodily harm and armed with a dangerous weapon.

In his recent sentencing ruling, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson said these two men have become “two more victims of Rover.

“But the Court is encouraged to see that the Government is making efforts in response to its concerns to address the problems highlighted by the unregulated consumption of these jet-fuel mixtures.”

According to the Police report in July last year around 10 pm at night, defendant 41 and victim 29, were drinking Rover Vodka in front of the defendant’s house.

During the drinking session, the defendant asked the victim for a cigarette as the victim had been smoking. But the victim told him there were no more cigarettes and this angered the defendant.

The defendant then grabbed the Rover and the glass mug that they were using and walked to his house.

The victim followed closely behind him and tried to take back the Rover when the defendant turned around and punched him in the left eye with his right hand which held the glass mug.

“The mug shattered injuring the defendant’s right hand and the victim’s left eye. The victim’s injury was catastrophic and has resulted in permanent loss/ blindness in his left eye.” 

The Victim Impact Report indicated the victim spent three months in hospital recovering from his injuries and now suffers headaches when exposed too long to sunlight which has a significant impact on his ability to work as part of the maintenance crew for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Victim Impact Report also stated that the defendant and his family have made no effort to apologise to the victim or to help with his medical expenses.

The defendant told the court the last time this matter was called, that an apology had been made to the victim’s father and accompanied by an unsigned, undated letter on plain paper to the Probation Service purporting to be from the father confirming the apology.

“The defendant should know that the Probation Service visited the victim’s father who denied writing such a letter and denied that there was an apology.

“The defendant is not helping himself in trying to mislead the Court on such an important issue,” noted Justice Nelson.

The court noted that in this particular case the defendant must be held accountable for his action and this should promote him a sense of taking responsibility for what he did to the victim, and must also denounce his conduct as unacceptable and serve as a deterrent for him personally and to all others generally.

“It must also provide for the interests of the victim who is now permanently maimed.

“The aggravating factors of the offending are referred to in the prosecution submission and they include the seriousness of the injury caused, the degree of violence involved in that the blow delivered was sufficient to shatter the glass mug, the use of a weapon namely a glass mug and the targeting of the strike because the blow was directed to the victims face obviously designed to inflict maximum damage.”

The court’s sentencing jail term started from six years to reflect the defendant’s recent and relevant previous convictions for assault and threatening words.

“And to pay due regard to the horrific and permanent nature of the victim’s injury.  “From that six years start point there are deductions you are eligible for that must be made as with all defendants.

“Usually the first deduction for a defendant is for a clean record and previous good character. But you do not have a clean record and I am dubious about your previous good character.

“What I have read shows you have a history of family violence, you have appeared before the Family Violence Court and the Samoa Victim Support Group.

I think you have a serious drinking problem. There will be no deduction for record/previous good character.”

The Court noted two real factors in favour of the defendant the fact that he completed the Salvation Army six-week Psycho-education Alcohol and Drug Programme and the fact that he pleaded guilty.

“Your participation in the Programme tells me you are trying to rehabilitate yourself in an effort to control your problem. That is a good thing and when you have served your prison term I suggest you give up alcohol altogether,” said Justice Nelson.

“The fact that you have pleaded guilty is also in your favour because that has saved the courts limited time and precious resources investigating this matter.”

On the charge of causing intentional grievous bodily harm, the defendant was sentenced to four years in prison and for the second charge of armed with a dangerous weapon, he is sentenced to jail for six months.

This means the defendant will serve four years at the Tanumalala prison.