Vilisoni Finau has been found guilty in the Supreme Court of reckless driving causing death.
Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said the charge against Finau had been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“It is difficult to see how Mr. Finau could have driven in a more reckless or dangerous manner,” the judge said.
Finau pleaded guilty on arraignment on November 13, 2018, to a charge of causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol.
On April 16 this year the prosecution was permitted to change the indictment to one count of reckless driving causing death. Finau pleaded not guilty to the amended charge.
The court was told that on June 1, 2018, a utility driven by Finau was involved in a collision with a car driven by Tou’anga Ma’a Tonga Kamea at the corner of Vaha’akolo Rd and Mateialona Rd in Nuku’alofa.
Kamea suffered serious injuries and died soon afterwards.
In his defence, Finau said it had not been proved that he drove recklessly and caused the death of Kamea.
Finau did not give evidence or call any witnesses in his defence.
The only witness to the collision was Mrs Fekita Toumo’ua, who the judge described honest, credible and convincing.
“Her evidence was hardly challenged in cross examination and nothing that was put to her led me to doubt her recollection of events,” Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said.
About 11.30pm on June 1, 2018, Toumo’ua was driving north on Vaha’akolo Road. She was travelling at around 30 kilometres per hour and on her way to work at a local radio station.
As she was coming up to Queen Salote College (approaching the Vaha’akolo Road and Mateialona Road intersection) she could hear a roaring noise that sounded like a big truck. She saw the utility coming up behind her very quickly. She said it was travelling ‘as fast as an aeroplane’ and at 100 kilometres per hour or more. She moved to the left side of the road in case the vehicle hit her.
She said a car had entered the intersection ahead travelling in an easterly direction on Mateialona Road. She thought it had slowed but not stopped before entering the intersection. The utility then entered the intersection. She did not see it slow, nor did she see any brake lights go on. The utility did not use the roundabout but drove straight over the top of it and collided with the car.
She did not stop but called the Police to report the collision.
When interviewed by police, Finau said that he had been a Police Officer for 30 years. On the evening of the collision he had attended a party and a ball. He said he had been drinking beer and wine and had lost count of the number of drinks that he had. He could not recall where he had gone after the ball or remember the accident.
The court was told that In his voluntary statement Finau said: “The truth is it was my alcohol consumption that caused the death and that’s what happens when consuming alcohol and driving.”
Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said Finau would be sentenced at a later date.
The main points
- Vilisoni Finau has been found guilty in the Supreme Court of reckless driving causing death,
- Lord Chief Justice Paulsen said the charge against Finau had been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
- “It is difficult to see how Mr. Finau could have driven in a more reckless or dangerous manner,” the judge said.