Halavavae Sosaia Tameifuna was convicted at the Supreme Court for dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm to a 36-year-man on Vaha'akolo Road, by intentionally swerving his car to hit the victim, who did not see the car coming.
Hon. Mr Justice Niu in his ruling today found the accused guilty, after a trial.
On July 11, 2019 the accused drove his vehicle on Vaha'akolo Road at Tofoa at a speed and in a manner dangerous to the public.
He hit the victim, Sione Angianga, who was standing on the side of the road, when he swerved the vehicle to the left of the road causing his injury, leading to permanent disablement of his upper limb.
The Crown called seven witnesses. The accused also gave evidence.
The victim said on this day at about 2:00-3:00pm, he drove a truck with another boy, Penisimani Nonu (17) who was sitting at the front with him.
He parked the truck on the east side of Vaha'akolo Road and got out while Peni stayed in the truck.
The victim went to his home and looked for a tyre there but could not find one so he came back to get into the truck to leave. He said, as he reached for the driver's door handle, he did not know anymore until he woke up at Vaiola Hospital.
The victim said that the bridge of his nose had hit the side mirror of the truck. The medical report stated his nasal bone and right arm close to his shoulder were fractured. In addition, he had multiple facial abrasions, a closed comminuted fracture of the right clavicle, that is the clavicle being broken into small pieces and a bilateral fracture of inferior pubic rami of the pelvis.
He was in hospital for three weeks (although the report stated that he was discharged from hospital after only 10 days) and that he had to leave hospital because he had no money to pay for his stay there. He was confined to bed at his home from July until December when he was finally able to walk again. As for his back, he can't lie on it at all because it is painful, so has to lie on his side at all times.
The doctor also told him there was nothing more they could do about it.
The judge said from the evidence there could not be any doubt that the victim did not run or walk onto the accused's vehicle.
"There was not one piece of evidence, other than the claim of the accused suggesting that he did."
He said there was the evidence of the accused's own aunt and uncle, Malia Uikelotu (24) and Saula 'Ahia (16), who were riding in the vehicle with the accused. Both saw the victim standing by his truck, and that the accused swerved or turned the vehicle onto and deliberately hit him, with the left side of the vehicle.
“The accused did see the victim standing there. He was standing only 2.58m from the curb on the left side of the road, while the accused's vehicle had the remainder of the width of the eastern half of Vaha'akolo Road.
“The only way that the course of the car could have changed, such as the two witnesses said happened, was if the steering wheel was turned that way. Both said that it was turned that way deliberately by the accused,” he said.
The judge rejected a submission by the defence counsel that evidence of those two key witnesses who were passengers in the accused's vehicle, could not be relied upon.
“I believe the evidence that the accused did say the words they say he said: "Mo sio kau ako'i e kalasi ko 'eni" (You two watch while I teach this class of people). When he said those words, there was the victim, Sione, standing by his truck..talking on his telephone.
“He decided to teach him not to stand like that there on the road. ...Within two seconds, he turned the steering wheel to the left, but he had turned it too far to the left that the car hit the rear right corner of the truck with the side mirror of the car and the mirror was shattered.
“The accused then turned the car so the left front part of the car hit the man who was talking on the telephone on the road by his truck, the man whom the accused had told [the witnesses] he would teach.”
“The man (Sione) never saw the car coming.” The witnesses said that the left side of the car squeezed the victim against the truck and rolled him between the truck and the car, and the victim's head hit and smashed the car's windscreen. The other witness, Peni, saw the victim's face hit the side mirror of the truck and saw him rolled onto the road in front of the parked truck. Damage to the vehicles supported the evidence.
“At one time, as [the witness] said the accused revved up the car and rolled the body faster ... and only finished when the body fell off at the front of the truck.” The driver did not stop and kept on going.
“I believe that neither Malia or Saula believed what they were seeing happen before their eyes - that their nephew, the accused could do such a thing to that boy for just standing on the road and talking on the telephone. It was not an accident at all; it was premeditated causing of serious injury. Malia could not think to live with it - she told the accused to go back and help save the boy from the sure death it appeared that they had left him in. And when she got home and talked with the accused's friend, it confirmed her resolve to do something about what she saw happened. She went to the police and reported it.
“I accept both their evidence as true. I give credit to Malia and Saula for maintaining their stand as to what they saw and heard happened.”
The judge concluded that Tameifuna did turn or swerve his vehicle to the left of the road, where the victim was standing talking on his telephone and hit him and thereby caused the injury which has led to permanent disablement of his upper limb.
"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty of the offence with which he has been charged with in this trial."
Taumeifuna will be sentenced on a later date.
The Crown prosecutor was Ms. 'A 'Aholelei. Counsel for the defence was Mr S. Tu'utafaiva.