Assault at Rugby Sevens match leads to conviction in Supreme Court

An assault at a rugby sevens match led to a conviction in the Supreme Court.

It was alleged that on Christmas Eve 2016 at Pangai, Ha’apai Fakatouola Lafo’ou wilfully and without lawful justification caused harm to Taufu’i Tohi when he punched him causing injuries to his face and collarbone.

Lafo’ou was found guilty of seriously causing bodily harm in a trial before Lord Chief Justice Paulsen.

On December 24, 4016, Tohi was refereeing a sevens rugby match between Ha’ato’u and Faleloa at Lea­’aetohi field as part of the Fekitoa Sevens Tournament.

During the match a fight broke out between the players of the two teams.  Supporters of  the teams ran onto the field.

Lafo’ou  was seen  to punch Tohi, causing him to fall to the ground. He was then seen to slap the referee while he was on the ground.

Afterwards he was seen demonstrating how he had punched Tohi.

These events were witnessed in whole or part by a number of spectators.

Tohi was unconscious for a short time and removed from the field.  He took himself to the Niu’ui Hospital where he was examined  by Dr.  Puniani.  Tohi suffered cuts to his face and a broken collarbone.

Mr. Tohi lodged a complaint with the Police the same day.

In his statement to the Police, Lafo’ou said that there had been a fight during the game and that “We ran inside to stop the fight,” but  he  denied any knowledge of punching or slapping Mr. Tohi.

Lafo’ou’s defence rested largely on the argument that he was not responsible for the broken collar bone.

After considering evidence from Dr. Puniani and video of the incident, Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said that in the absence of any evidence to suggest otherwise, the only  reasonable inference to be drawn was that Mr. Tohi’s collarbone was broken in the fall.

“I am satisfied that all elements of the offence have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the judge said.

The judge said he would consult with counsel on sentencing.

The main points

  • An assault at a rugby sevens match led to a conviction in the Supreme Court.
  • It was alleged that on Christmas Eve 2016 at Pangai, Ha’apai Fakatouola Lafo’ou wilfully and without lawful justification caused harm to Taufu’i Tohi when he punched him causing injuries to his face and
  • Lafo’o was found guilty of seriously causing bodily harm in a trial before Lord Chief Justice Paulsen.

For more information

“I’m out!” says Fekitoa after criticism of confrontation with referee

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