Step daughter dies – father failed as a parent

Court House, Apoa

Court House, Apia

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: MONDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2013: A man today pleaded guilty to failing to carry out his duties as a parent which resulted in the death of his disabled step daughter.

Siatua Apulu Ini, 46, of Tufulele, is to be sentenced on 5 March in the Supreme Court.

The defendant was originally charged with manslaughter over the death of his step daughter last year.

The matter was scheduled for hearing this morning in the Supreme Court.

But proceedings took an unexpected turn when the prosecution filed two alternative charges against the defendant, namely failure to carry out his parental duties and assault of the deceased.

Siatua surprised his lawyer when he pleaded guilty to the first alternative charge – and pleaded not guilty to the assault charge.

Defence counsel Ponifasio asked for time to consult with her client and the prosecution asked for time to consider the response by the accused.

Presiding judge Chief Justice Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu called both counsels to chambers.

When the Court resumed the question of his plea was put to the defendant again.

Siatua explained that he pleaded guilty to a failure to discharge his duty as a father but not guilty to manslaughter or assault.

The defendant was charged in February last year after the death of his disabled step daughter.

According to defense counsel, the defendant had rushed out to collect the washing when it started to rain after he’d placed his step daughter on a high chair.

While outside, he heard a big bang and saw that his daughter had fallen off the chair.

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