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A man has been found not guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm after a young woman from Ha’ateiho lost the sight in one eye after she claims the man threw a stone at her.
Tevita Lisiate of Ha’ateiho was acquitted after he was charged with wilfully and without lawful justification, causing grievous bodily harm to Lupe Vaimoana Tafuna, when he threw a stone that hit her face, causing permanent blindness in her right eye.
The court was told that on October 7, 2022 Tafuna was leaving a dance of the LDS chapel in Pea. She was with her brother, Folau, and friends, and they were walking towards the vehicle they were to return home in.
There was a group of boys walking on the other side of the road. One young man from that group came and confronted Finau. There was an altercation. Lupe got involved to the extent of telling this boy to stop fighting.
The boy who had approached Folau turned to go and walked back to the other side of the road. Around about this time, there was more shouting from that other group, challenging Lupe’s friends to a fight.
Lupe and those she was with were nearing the car when she turned, and that is when, as she said in her evidence a rock landed on her face. She didn’t see who had thrown it.
The medical evidence was not disputed. She had, essentially, been blinded in her right eye. She could no longer, for example, read any text message on her mobile phone using that eye. She only had an awareness of brightness in her peripheral vison to that eye.
Folau, her brother gave evidence. His account was much as his sister’s, save to say that he named somebody called “Tevita”, who had approached him and challenged him to a fight.
His account was that it was this same boy, Tevita, who threw the stone that hit his sister, causing the devastating injury.
Foster Latu another member of Lupe Tafuna’s group gave evidence.
His account was that amongst the other group of young men on the other side of the road one had passed a stone to a boy called ‘Ti” and “Ti” had thrown it.
He said this; after the rock was thrown, he saw Lupe Tafuna fall to the ground. He rushed over to her along with his sister from there he saw ‘Tevita Lisiate” and the other boys running away.
Tevita Lisiate had not answered police’s questions and not given an interview.
He did not give evidence at trial.
The court judgement said:
“There was no identification procedure and there was no forensic evidence to link him to the rock.
“No evidence was adduced as to the circumstances in which Tevita Lisiate was arrested.
“How the investigation led to his being identified was highly relevant.
“If anything significant had been said on being cautioned and on arrest, that was never adduced. Quite simply put, that part of the continuity of the evidence was non-existent.
In his decision, Justice Cooper reminded that:
“In every case before this Court there must be evidence of the arrest, the caution and the reply to caution.
“Where identification may be in issue, there must always be an identification procedure carried out.
“If these observations on basic trial preparation are ignored, then victims of crime wi II continue to be denied a voice in the Criminal Justice System. 32. In this case young Miss Lupe Tafuna, tragically suffered lite changing injuries”.
“Tevita Lisiate was acquitted on the single count he faced.”, he said.