Man jailed in manslaughter case

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Talaitau Niue was sentenced to 13 months in jail on the charge of manslaughter. The recent sentencing was handed down by Justice Niavā Mata K. Tuatagaloa. 

The police case states that on 9 August 2021 (fathers’ day), Talaitau and two other men from his village were drinking alcohol (Rover Vodka) when the deceased, Sanele Mikaele, joined.

The deceased was first to leave and followed by Talaitau also left they live on the same road. The Summary of Facts (“SoF”) states that  Sanele was upset with Tuliau, and waited for him in front of his house. 

Sanele threw a rock and hit Talaitau on the chest when they were only a few meters apart;

Talaitau retaliated by punching the deceased, who fell onto the tar-sealed road and the defendant further punched him twice in the face while he was on the ground.

Both Sanele and Talaitau are from the same village. Sanele was 52 years old and Talaitau was 39 years old at the time of the offending, married with three children.

The deceased suffered a broken jaw, several missing teeth, swelling to his cheeks, and a lacerated tongue.

Sanele was transferred to Motootua Hospital on 10 August 2021 where emergency surgery was carried out. There was a lot of blood clots in the brain as well as brain swelling which led to his death a week later.

The Prosecution seeks for a custodial sentence with a starting point of 8 years’ imprisonment. Justice Tuatagaloa says from the bench that the aggravating factors are the injuries sustained, loss of human life and vulnerability of the deceased when he was on the ground.

Violence is always or at most times associated where alcohol is involved and it is always a serious offence when someone dies therefore, it is not a separate aggravating factor from loss of life. The prosecution also referred to some sentencings of the Court on manslaughter.

Defense Counsel seeks for a non-custodial sentence for the maximum supervision term of 2 years to be imposed on the following grounds:

Furthermore, her honours pointed out that the offence of manslaughter has drawn the most varying in sentences ranging from non-custodial to custodial to terms of imprisonment. It is therefore not possible to set a tariff or a starting point that applies across the board to all cases of manslaughter. The starting point for each case must depend on its own unique set of circumstances.

It is clear from the summary of facts and pre-sentence report that the deceased was the aggressor.

The defendant’s family performed a ‘ifoga’ and was accepted by the Sa’o of the deceased’s family.

A loss of life is always taken very seriously by the Court, and the Court in sentencing takes the surrounding circumstances of the offending into account, says Justice Tuatagaloa.

Her honours started with 4 years however after deductions the defendant was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment less any time he was remanded in custody.