Jail for unlicensed drunk woman who injured partner in Tongatapu high-speed crash

A woman who was intoxicated and speeding while her partner attempted to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle as they argued has been sent to jail.

Angilau pulled the steering wheel towards her to regain control, causing the vehicle to veer off to the right side of the road toward the University of the South Pacific campus.

Tepi Angilau was imprisoned for 10-months for causing serious bodily harm to her partner Viliami Lehā’uli.

A court document shows that on or about 25 August, 2023, at approximately 2pm, Angilau and  Leha’uli as well as  others were drinking alcohol at a tax allotment at Pelehake.

At around 9pm, they moved to Laulea Beach at Fua’amotu to continue drinking. The group travelled in Viliami’s vehicle, license number R1949.

Shortly after arriving at Laulea, Angilau and Lehā’uli left the group to pick up  Siutita Nusi from Tatakamotonga in the same vehicle. After they picked Nusi up, they went to get a change of clothes for Angilau from Lehā’uli’s house. Lehā’uli, then drove them to Ciora Bar in Nuku’alofa.

At the Ciora Bar, Angilau and Lehā’uli were barred from entering as they were inebriated.

The party made their way back to Pelehake travelling on Taufa’ahau Road. Angilau was driving with Lehā’uli seated at the front passenger seat and Nusi seated at the back seat.

Angilau was speeding. Her passengers, Lehā’uli and Nusi cautioned and urged her to drive carefully but Angilau persisted. That escalated to an argument between Angilau and Lehā’uli.

As they approached the Tonga College at Ha’ateiho, Lehā’uli attempted to take charge of the steering wheel to stop the vehicle. Angilau resisted causing the vehicle to swerve left and right along the Taufa’ahau Road, heading east.

Angilau pulled the steering wheel towards her to regain control, causing the vehicle to veer off to the right side of the road toward the University of the South Pacific campus. The vehicle crashed onto the sidewalk, flipped sideways towards a nearby fence, hitting a palm tree and landed back on its wheels.

As the vehicle flipped sideways, Angilau and Lehā’uli  were catapulted out of the vehicle while Nusi remained in the back passenger seat. All three were rushed to the hospital.

Angilau was tested for alcohol, her reading came back at 720 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.

Angilau and Nusi sustained abrasions and bruising to their face and chest. Lehā’uli sustained a severe bilateral lung contusion with a right hemopneumothorax, soft tissue injury to his right shoulder and right flank, and multiple abrasions to his right lower back, left chest, left shoulder and abdomen.

Angilau cooperated with the Police and admitted to the offending. At the time of the accident, she did not have a valid driver’s license.

Acting Chief Justice Petunia Tupou  convicted and sentenced Angilau as follows:

a) One count of causing serious bodily injury while driving under the influence of alcohol and is sentenced to 3 years imprisonment; and

b) One count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid motor driver’s license and is fined $200 payable within 6 months from the date of her release from prison.

The final 26 months of her sentence is suspended for a period of two years from the date of her release from prison, on conditions that during the said period of suspension, Angilau is to:

a) Not commit any offence punishable by imprisonment;

b) Be placed on probation;

c) Report to the Probation Office within 48 hours when released from prison; and

d) Complete courses in drug and alcohol awareness as directed by her probation officer;

Failure to comply with any of the said conditions may result in the suspension being rescinded, in which case, the Defendant will be required to serve her head prison sentence.

Subject to compliance with the said conditions and any remissions available under the Prisons Act, Angilau will be required to serve 10 months in prison.

Pursuant to s34(2) of the Traffic Act, Angilau is disqualified from obtaining a driver’s license for a period of 12 months commencing on the date she is released from prison.

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