APIA: FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2014: Pressure from Police led him to say incorrectly that he had killed Hans Dalton of New Zealand. That was evidence by Jonathan Patrick Crichton who took the witness stand this morning in the Supreme Court to deny he had drowned Dalton in a 44 gallon drum in Tafaigata Prison on Christmas day in 2012.
An inmate of Tafaigata, Crichton, 22, said that on 8 January 2014, he was waiting for an escort to take him to hospital because he was sick. Instead, he and another prisoner Siliva Suitupe were taken to Police headquarters in Apia where unknown to him he was going to be interviewed again about Dalton’s death.
During a casual conversation with Inspector Samuelu Afamasaga, he was told there was enough evidence that he’d killed, Crichton said. Inspector Afamasaga told him no one cared for him anymore, as he had already committed a crime and it does not matter if he serves another 100 years in prison, the defendant said. (Jonathan is serving a life sentence for murder).
He said the Inspector then asked him if he was hiding something.
“I said no and I did not understand why he asked that, because I believed Hans had committed suicide.” He will never succeed in hiding the truth, and if not an illness will strike him Inspector Afamasaga told him, Crichton said.
The Inspector kept asking if he’d killed Dalton, he said.
“I kept saying no.”
Inspector Afamasaga pointed out that his – Crichton’s – finger prints were found on Dalton’s body.
Crichton said Dalton had called over for a light because his mosquito coil had gone off. When he arrived with a light Dalton said to reach inside his cell for the coil and as he did so grabbed his arm and tried to pull him inside, the defendant said. He used his other hand to grab Dalton’s neck until his other arm was released, he said.
“I grabbed his neck and pulled my hand out then I left.”
In the statement Police produced in evidence Crichton said the incident angered him, but in the witness stand this morning the defendant testified he wasn’t. He was sorry for Dalton for his mental problems, he said.
“Then why did you say you did it (killed Dalton) in the statement,” defense lawyer Rosella Papali’i asked him.
“I was uncertain, worried, and was not sure and because of the pressure from the police,” said Crichton.
After his conversation with Inspector Afamasaga he said he was given time to relax before the official interview took place – during which another police officer, Misipele Finau, joined.
Crichton testified that he did not respond to questions immediately.
Asked how the questions were phrased, he said, “Questions were asked but there were replies Samuelu (Inspector Afamasaga) wanted me to reply with.”
“I was scared when he asked me whether it was a key, a fork or anything sharp that was used to open the cell door of Han’s cell.
“I remembered a can of marlin was inside my room so I said the key of the can of marlin was used to open the door.”
Dalton was found head first in a 44 gallon drum the morning of 26 December 2012.
Because of a mental condition Dalton became too aggressive for health personnel to handle and was taken to prison, arriving at 6-7pm Christmas Day, Crichton said.
Dalton, who arrived wearing only shorts, bore bruises and scratches on his arms, fingers, legs and stomach, he said.
Upon instructions from a policeman Crichton filled up a drum of water half-way, then fetched his mat and a pillow from Suitupe for the new arrival who was placed in Cell 4 of their block.
The water in the drum was for inmates to flush the toilet with.
As he and Suitupe said their evening prayers, Dalton called out for a mosquito coil to light a smoke with, which he gave, said Crichton. Soon after Dalton called out he was hungry.
Crichton said he opened a packet of cookies and handed over some but Dalton crushed them in his hands and threw them at them.
“I was upset,” he said because sometimes food was short in jail, but not angry.
Soon Dalton called out he was thirsty, so he found a bottle, poured water into it from his bottle and gave it to Dalton, Crichton said.
“He thanked me.”
Gaps in the door of the cell allowed these things to be handed over to Dalton.
Crichton said his cell and that of Suitupe’s were not locked all night.
Around 9 o’clock that night three policemen went to Dalton’s cell with two health personnel, one of whom had pills for him. But Dalton slapped the pills away and went outside his well.
A Health staff gave a policeman pills for Dalton who slapped them away too, Crichton said.
They returned the patient to the cell and left after locking it.
Dalton began to scream and punched the wall and door three to four times, Crichton said.
He said the light in Dalton’s cell was on all night.
Around midnight Police officers returned to the block for a check but did not enter Cell 4.
“It was around one (o’clock) that I fell asleep,” Crichton said.
Dalton shouted, swore, punched the wall and door and called out the name “Lisa.”
“He did that the whole night” – “Without rest,” Crichton said.
He said he was used to such noise because there had been another mental patient who’d behaved like that previously.
He woke up around 8 in the morning to silence so went to check the “brother” and saw him in the gallon drum.
“I looked again properly to see if he was moving.”
Crichton said he then called out to police for help, joined by Suitupe.
Police officers unlocked Dalton’s cell and tried to lift him out of the drum but couldn’t.
On his suggestion the drum was pushed to allow for Dalton to be pulled out, Crichton said.
One of the officers called out if anyone can carry out CPR.
“A policeman did so but Dalton was dead,” Crichton said.