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From the Courts

School violence instigator jailed for serious bodily harm

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Huatolitoli Prison, Tonga.

By Linny Folau

‘Alipate Talau (21) of Malapo was sent to jail for three-years and six months imprisonment for serious causing bodily harm to Latu Kivalu last year. 

Hon Mr Justice Niu sentenced him on June 8 at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court, after pleading guilty.

As a repeat offender and an instigator of school fights, no suspension was given by the judge.

This offending was on September 26, 2020 at Kolofo'ou when he punched and caused a cut to the right front side of the victim's head, fracturing his upper right front tooth.

The accused was not a student, while the victim was from Tonga College.

The judge said, the accused had been very much involved in the fights between the Tonga College boys ('Atele) and Liahona High School boys, since 2015.

He told his probation officer, that he always joined the "fights" that occurred between Tonga College boys and the Liahona High School boys because although he did not attend Liahona High School, he is a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which owns and operates the school.

The town officer of Malapo also told probation, that the accused is a very bad person and that he has been banned from Malapo, because he caused disturbances and fights there.

He was no doubt the leader in the fightings or the instigator of the fightings because he was sentenced to serve 40-hours community service for his 
first offence at the age of 16, and that it was not an imprisonment sentence, as it should have been because he was in the technical school at Tupou College at the time, he said.

He then left the technical school and was more interested in leading the Liahona boys against the 'Atele boys instead.

"Your offence in the present case is not just the punching and causing of an injury to Latu Kivalu. Your offence is a bigger offence than that. It is the offence of causing the fighting between the two schools."

The judge said, Kivalu was just standing there doing nothing but he just went up and punched him and when the victim fell down, he walked away.

“I do not believe and I do not accept that he and other 'Atele boys had beaten you up two-weeks before then like you told me. I believe that you had punched him simply because he was an 'Atele boy and that you wanted to keep the fighting between 'Atele and Liahona continuing, he said.

"This is a case where an imprisonment sentence is necessary, not only to punish you for the offence committed but more importantly to protect the society from you."

The judge also did not consider that the accused was entitled to suspension of any part of the sentence.

“Though young, he has five previous convictions in the last five-years and he is not likely to take the opportunity of suspension to rehabilitate himself to law abiding. Your record speaks for itself, you have not changed at all,” he said.

He was then sentenced to three-years six-months imprisonment.