Manusamoa Sialafua (head bowed) and comforted by family members after the verdict was delivered.
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 30 OCTOBER 2020: Twenty five year old Manusamoa Sialafua of Luatuanu’u is now serving a 10 months prison sentence after pleading guilty to abducting a 3 year old girl.
The incident happened at Mulinu’u in December 2018 where he abducted a 3 year old girl.
On the day of the offence, Manusamoa was drinking alcohol with friends close to an area frequented by families to swim.
The 3 year old girl was playing with other children while her mother was lying on the seawall. When the mother looked up and could not see her daughter among the children playing, she walked out to where her daughter was and started asking if anyone had seen her. One man pointed her to the direction that Manusamoa took.
The mother and others then ran out and caught Manusamoa in-front of the old Court house in Mulinu’u and took back the child. The mother then filed a complaint with the police.
In court, Manusamoa originally pleaded not guilty but on the day of the hearing early this year, he changed to a guilty plea.
In passing sentence, Justice Mata Tuatagaloa labelled Manusamoa’s action as inconsiderate.
“It is a serious offence that happened at a public place often frequented by families and children for a swim,” said Mata.
“…It was fortunate that the mother realized the situation before it was too late…”, she said.
She emphasized the fact that what the defendant did indicated that even public areas are not safe anymore.
Defence counsel Mauga Precious Chang informed the Court to remove part of the defendants claim that he was the father of the child.
“That big lie not only tells the kind of character you are but has an impact on the victim’s mother, ” said Justice Tuatagaloa.
Prosecution asked for a 3 year starting point for sentencing but the Court opted for 2 years.
Although the Court considered the offence serious, it also considered the mitigating factors that the defendant pleaded guilty and his family had apologized to the victim’s family.
From the 2 years sentence, 4 months were deducted for the apology and 6 months for the time he was in custody.
“You are sentenced to 10 months to be served after serving the current 3 year sentence on separate charges of burglary and unlawful entry,” ruled Justice Tuatagaloa.