Rugby star jailed

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National rugby star Daniel Saomatangi.
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BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

A YOUNG rugby player who attacked a man and left his victim with permanent damage to his right eye was jailed for two years six months on Tuesday 17th February.

Daniel Saomatangi was found guilty of one count of common assault.

This was in relation to an unprovoked incident on January 18, 2020 shortly after 2am at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara.

The court heard after he came out from the Heritage Club drunk, Saomatangi confronted his victim who was sitting inside his Hilux at the car park area.

Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga said the accused was under the influence of alcohol when he punched the two victims – a couple.

“This occurred immediately when they started to argue,” Aulanga said.

“The fact that he was under the influence of alcohol shows he was not able to control his temper and was likely to get angry and involve in a fight much quicker than his normal sense,” he added.

Aulanga said the facts showed that the fighting had already stopped and likewise, they had already separated.

“There wasn’t any provocative words uttered to him from the victim.

“Yet, he ignored those who restrained him and ran straight to the victim and punched his right eye and according to the medical report from the victim had permanently caused loss of visibility to his right eye.”

Aulanga also said that since the defendant had denied the charges and the matter went to trial, he finds him that he is not entitled to any remorse.

Magistrate Aulanga imposed a starting point of three-and-half years’ imprisonment.

“This sentence will be increased by four months to reflect the aggravating factors, making it to a term of 46 months.

“However, this term is reduced by 16 months to reflect his youthfulness, his personal circumstances and the delay taken to finalise this case.

“The final sentence for this offence is 30 months or two-and-half years’ imprisonment.

“By operation of section 44 of the Penal Code, I am precluded from suspending this term.”

Aulanga also said that he was urged to consider the personal circumstances that Saomatanga is currently a student at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Arts Preliminary Programme and being an important or key player for the National Rugby League team of Solomon Islands.

A total of seven reference letters were submitted on his behalf to show that he has been well liked by his family and that he had already taken steps to reform his behaviour by joining religious programmes and activities.

“I have considered those submissions and of the view that matters such as being a student or a key sports player for the country or a devoted religious person does not make you exempted from any punishment as a result of committing a serious crime.

“They should not be allowed to downplay or even trivialise the need to discourage this offence in the country.

“The need to deter serious crimes through the imposition of deterrent sentence as one of the crime prevention mechanisms should be the central focus of the court when it comes to sentencing.

“The offence of grievous harm, as earlier stated, is a serious offence. It is an act of selfish disregard to the safety of others by arrogant persons or those who claimed themselves as ‘iron men’,” Aulanga said.