Bus driver pleaded guilty to new offence

Tulaele side of Lotopa Ford.

BY Alan Ah Mu

APIA: MONDAY 28 OCTOBER 2013: The driver who drove his bus into a swollen ford killing two children was charged and pleaded guilty to a new offence.

Moe Iosua of Fagae’e and Vaitele-fou earlier in the week pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter a new offence introduced by the new Crimes Act 2013.

“In the past, we were not able to charge drivers with manslaughter for serious deaths arising from reckless use of a vehicle,” said Attorney General, Aumua Ming Leung Wai.

Back in 2003 the Attorney General’s Office tried to make a charge of manslaughter stick against a man who through negligent driving caused a death.

But the Chief Justice turned them down saying, “I conclude that manslaughter by negligent driving causing death is not a crime under the current provisions of the Crimes Ordinance 1961.”

The most serious charge available to the AG’s Office then for traffic offences appeared to have been negligent driving causing death which attracted a maximum penalty of a jail term not exceeding 5 years or to a fine not exceeding $2000.

The Crimes Act 2013 replaced and modernised the Crimes Ordinance 1961, with vehicular manslaughter amongst a range of new offences it introduced.

Under section 108 of the new act a person who commits manslaughter is liable to imprisonment for life.

When Iosua drove his bus into the ford at Lano, in Savai’i Island, killing two children, negligent driving causing death had

just made a driver liable to a charge of manslaughter.

Earlier in the week he pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter.

He appears for sentence on 12 November. He is remanded in custody until then.