Member of Parliament (MP) for Central Guadalcanal Peter Shanel Agovaka has been convicted of a lesser offence, in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court, Tuesday.
Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi convicted Agovaka of a common assault charge and acquitted him of the assault causing actual bodily harm charge.
The offence of common assault carries the maximum penalty of one year imprisonment.
Ms Taeburi convicted Agovaka after she was satisfied with the evidences from three prosecution witnesses who saw the accused involved in the fight.
She said the three prosecution witnesses are consistent in their own individual testimony on the point Agovaka assaulted the complainant by kicking him on the face and on the thighs.
“I am satisfied that they are reliable and truthful and therefore accept their evidence,” Ms Taeburi said in her ruling yesterday.
Ms Taeburi was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the initial fight was between Agovaka’s co-accused Wako and complainant, that Shanel joined the fight and that the complainant fell to the ground.
She also found that Agovaka kicked the complainant two times whilst he was standing and whilst he was lying down on the ground, that Agovaka kicked the complainant two times, on complainant’s face and thighs, both whilst complainant was standing and lying down on the ground.
“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that accused assaulted complainant,” she added.
The complainant also gave evidence in court where he said Wako punched him, he tasted blood in mouth and after the fight his legs were polio.
He also told the court that his head was swollen and that he crawled under the accused’s house and sleep there that night.
The complainant in his evidence said he could not walk the next day and that he used a stick to walk.
He added that at his house, he said he could not drink water and that his injuries were still bleeding the next day.
In his evidence, the complainant further stated that he could not walk for two weeks after the fight and after that two weeks went to the clinic where he was given Panadol and Septrin.
Ms Taeburi in her ruling said she must make an assessment that in Examination in Chief, the complainant said he could not walk two weeks after the fight.
She said in Cross Examination, lawyer representing Agovaka showed a statement he gave to police on 23 December 2013.
“In Cross Examination, the complainant said in cross examination that on 23 December 2013, he boarded a truck from his village and came to Honiara.
“He got off at Honiara City Council and then walked to police station that he gave the statement.
“From those answers, defence put the conclusion to complainant that he was able to walk on 23 December 2013 which was six days and not two weeks after the fight.
“The complainant could not answer this composition.
“Clearly he refused to answer a simple and clear composition.
“This shows that he is invasive.
“Whether he answer the composition or not, does not change the fact that he gave two opposing statement firstly to the police and secondly to court.
“This greatly affects his credibility.
“I do not believe him on his evidence of the injuries he sustained and his condition after the fight,” Ms Taeburi said.
The complainant also said he visited a clinic and was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic at National Referral Hospital.
A nurse who attended to the complainant on two occasions at the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic was also called as the fifth prosecution witness.
The nurse in his first report on 16 November 2014 stated that the complainant was suffering from hearing loss in his right ear due to aging.
“The medical report dated 16 November 2014 does not assist the prosecution case.
“I find hearing loss suffered by complainant is not caused by Shanel,” Ms Taeburi said.
In the second medical report dated 28 April 2015, nurse found complainant suffered from a medical condition which could be possibly caused by trauma most likely from fight.
Ms Taeburi said she most definitely cannot make a conclusion that the condition is caused by Agovaka.
She said the fight occurred on 17 December 2013, and the medical examination was conducted more than a year after the fight.
“The period between when the fight occurred and when examination was conducted is too long.
“It is possible that complainant could sustain injuries from other unrelated incidents in that period of time,” she said.
Ms Taeburi found that prosecution failed to satisfy her that Agovaka caused the caused hearing loss and the medical condition suffered by complainant.
She said without proof, she cannot find Agovaka guilty of the charge of assault causing actual bodily harm.
She therefore under section 159 and subsection two of the Criminal Procedure Code found Agovaka guilty of a lesser charge of common assault.
She then acquitted Agovaka of the assault causing actual bodily harm charge and convicted him instead of the common assault charge.
Ms Taeburi also found from prosecution evidences that the complainant was shouting loudly, he was angry, he demanded explanation from CDO and that he demanded Agovaka to fulfil his promises to supply him and his family with timbers to complete their house.
She however found the complainant did not use abusive words, did not threatened to burn down Agovaka’s house, did not threatened to use guns, did not threatened to bring his group of men, did not kick any flower beds around the premises and did not throw stones.
Wako had already pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm charge.
He is awaiting sentence.
After Agovaka’s conviction yesterday, the matter was further adjourned to tomorrow for sentencing submissions and mitigation.
Both men were charged in relation to the incident to 17 December 2013 at Agovaka’s Lengakiki residence in Honiara.
Agovaka was the MP for Central Guadalcanal at that time.
The complainant who was one of his voters was attacked after inquiring about constituency funding.
Public Prosecutor Bradley Dalipanda outside of court said they are waiting for written copy of the judgment before considering whether or not they will appeal the ruling.
Francis Waleilia of Tandai Lawyers is representing Agovaka.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN