Avuavu murder trial ends
THE PROSECUTION case in relation to the trial of the murder of a schoolgirl at Avuavu, South Guadalcanal in 2017 has ended at the High Court.
The defence case will start this morning before Judge Maelyn Bird.
So far two witnesses have testified for the prosecution case.
Christopher Lalo is facing trial for the alleged gruesome murder of the schoolgirl on 14 November 2017.
It was alleged that he attacked the schoolgirl with a bush knife at Laovi point at Churuna, Bubughua village.
The deceased was between 13 and 14 years of age at that time.
The attack was said to be a retaliation for an alleged rape incident.
The accused’s daughter was allegedly raped by the deceased’s uncle and other relatives.
The deceased, who was a student from Bubutasi Primary School, was on her way back to her village at Bubughua after school when the incident occurred.
It was also alleged that the accused also tied a bush rope around her neck.
The deceased was then thrown face down under some trees about 15 meters away from the road.
Her body was found three days later by her relatives.
After his arrest, Lalo admitted the killing during a record of an interview with the police.
He then later contested the admission at a voir dire hearing conducted last week.
Two police officers and Lalo gave evidence at the hearing.
At the end of the hearing, Ms. Bird did not accept the grounds submitted by the defence to challenge the record of the interview.
She then ruled that Lalo’s admission will be used as part of the Crown’s evidence.
Lalo claimed he was ill-treated by the police officers conducting the interview and due to fear was forced to make the admission.
Public Solicitor’s lawyer Daniel Kwalai represents Lalo while Public Prosecutor Andrew Kelesi is prosecuting.
Curfew trial continues today
TRIAL on the case of the three people accused of breaching the curfew on April 10 will continue today, in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court.
The three young men are facing charges of restriction of movement contrary to section 4 (1) (3) as read with section 12 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020.
The hearing started on Tuesday before Chief Magistrate Emma Garo.
The prosecution had called four witnesses and are intending to call their final witness today.
These three accused are part of the 63 people arrested on the two nights of curfew – April 10 and April 11.
Some of the 63 people will be facing court today for the mentions of their matters.
The government had issued the curfew to test its response capacity and help identify challenges faced during an actual lockdown in terms of COVID-19.
The curfew was enforced within the declared emergency zone from Poha River in the west of Honiara to Alligator Creek in the east of Honiara.
Public Solicitor Howard Lawry represents the trio while Public Prosecutor Dalcy Belapitu appears for the Crown.
Teen jailed for causing harm
A YOUNG man who confessed to cutting another man’s wrist with a bush knife who attempts to stop a fight has received a one year jail term.
Nicholas Brown, 19, was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The incident occurred early this year in Honiara.
Principal Magistrate Felix Hollison in his sentencing remarks said Brown made the wrong choice to return from his house with the bush knife to argue with a man named Godfrey.
“You should have never returned with the knife,” Hollison told Brown.
He added that it is true that the response made by Godfrey towards Brown when he (Brown) asked for water was wrong, however it does not warrant the use of a weapon and such retaliation cannot be satisfied.
“The reason why Godfrey swore at him initially was not disclosed in the facts, however, what is known is that the defendant was drunk at the time.
“The defendant was wrong to enter the victim’s residential area with the knife which could not attract a charge of criminal trespass,” Hollison further added.
Hollison said cutting and injuring someone with a knife or a weapon also can cause grievous bodily harm and even fatality and an immediate custodial sentence is inevitable.
The incident in this matter happened on 29 February this year in Honiara.
Brown was intoxicated on that day when he asked Godfrey for a bottle of water.
Godfrey, however, turned back and swore at Brown.
Brown told Godfrey to wait for him and he went to his house.
Not long after he returned with a 50 centimetre long crocodile bush knife.
The accused entered into the residential area of the victim named Joshua and argued with Godfrey.
Godfrey is Joshua’s brother-in-law.
Following the argument, Godfrey struck Brown’s head with a wooden broom causing injuries on his left forehead.
Brown then strike Godfrey with the bush knife but it missed him.
The court heard that at that time Godfrey escaped from Brown but he (Brown) continued to go after Godfrey.
Brown was however intercepted by Joshua with a tackle and it was at that time that Brown struck his (Joshua) left wrist with the knife.
As a result, Joshua sustained injuries on his left wrist and was later transported to the National Referral Hospital (MRH) for medical attention.
Following the incident, Brown’s brother paid compensation of $1,200 to Joshua.
Hollison imposed a starting point of two years and eight months imprisonment but later reduced it to reflect the mitigating factors and personal circumstances of the accused.
The sentence is ordered to be backdated to when Brown was first remanded in custody which was on 1 March this year.
Brown was represented by Haniel Max of Public Solicitor’s Office while Police Prosecutor Watson Akwai appeared for the Crown.
Suspended sentence for kwaso brewer, seller
A FATHER of two who brewed and sold kwaso at Lio Creek, East Honiara has received a suspended sentence this week in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court.
John Kabolo was sentenced after pleading guilty to the charges of liquor for sale without licence and restriction on making liquor.
The bottles containing the kwaso and utensils for brewing the kwaso that were confiscated from Kabolo’s market stall and his residence were also ordered to be destroyed.
Magistrate Ishmael Kekou in his sentencing remarks said this regulatory offence is serious because Kabolo knowingly offended when he was not permitted by the minister responsible to distill and sell kwaso.
“There is no fact that the offender had genuinely wanted to get a permit from the minister responsible to distill and sell kwaso,” Kekou said.
Kekou added that had it been so, this case would have been less serious.
“In the absence of that the offender was selling about 19.7 litres of kwaso and was brewing kwaso at home.
“It is common knowledge that this is an unlawful activity.
“Yet, the offender risked.
“The cost of the litres of kwaso is unknown except that $10 for a bottle was supplied,” Kekou further added.
He said it does not make sense to sell a bottle of 330ml for $10 and also a bottle of 550ml for the same.
“However, if it is $10 for 330ml of kwaso then it would be about $600 worth of kwaso.
“…. And he was selling kwaso for three months.”
On 19 March this year, police conducted a high visibility mobile patrol around Honiara in three vehicles.
At 12.45pm the patrol arrived at the accused’s market stall at Lio Creek, suspected to have sell kwaso.
After conducting a search at Kabolo’s market stall, police found 33 x 550ml bottles, two 600ml bottles, and three 330ml bottles all containing kwaso.
After being questioned about those items, Kabolo told police that he brewed the kwaso at his home.
Kabolo then leads police to his home where police discovered several other items that he used to brew and distill the kwaso with.
Police confiscated those items and escorted Kabolo to the police station where he told police he sold a kwaso bottle for $10 and earns $50 a day.
He also told police he has been doing that for three months now.
In mitigation, Kabolo said he has two young children to support as a father and further supports a niece and nephew with school fees and bus fares.
After considering all the circumstances of Kabolo’s case Kekou imposed $500 for the first count and one and a half months imprisonment for the second count.
He then ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
This means Kabolo will not pay the $500 fine but will be serving his suspended sentence outside of prison.
During the one year period, Kabolo is required not to commit further offences.