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Bus driver fined for injury

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A District Court Judge yesterday ordered a bus driver to pay a fine of $1,100 for failing to report an incident within 24 hours to police and for negligent driving causing injury.

Alo Mauinatu was told to pay the fine before 4pm yesterday (Friday). Failure to do so would result with his being sent to jail for 5 months.

Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma presided over the matter in the District Court yesterday morning. Mauinatu, 25 of Malifa pleaded guilty to the charges at the earliest opportunity.

The incident occurred on the morning of 12th November 2013 at Vaitele-uta. The victim was Alapati Tanielu, 24 who had caught Mauinatu’s bus to work that morning at Vaitele-uta. Mr. Tanielu was employed by Uncle Johnny’s.

According to the Police summary of facts upon arriving near his work place Mr. Tanielu reached up and pulled the bell informing Mauinatu to stop. While he was standing on the steps of the bus he was holding on tight to a metal bar attached to the bus.

Stepping out of the bus he was still holding onto the metal bar when the bus drove away, dragging him along. Mr. Tanielu fell flat on his face, injuring his forehead. The court heard that the driver of the bus reversed to where Mr. Tanielu was lying and told him “you were in the wrong”.

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His response was he needed to go to hospital. It was during this time that the owner of the company that employed Mr. Tanielu stopped by and took him to the hospital.

When an opportunity was given to the defendant to explain his actions he told the court that he had informed the victim he didn’t have any money to take him to hospital.

In fact he had just started work that morning. He apologised before the court and said he felt remorseful for his actions.

Judge Roma told Mauinatu that his first charge of negligent driving causing injury could land him in prison for five years or a monetary fine not more than $2,000.

The second charge of failing to report the incident to Police would require him to pay $100.

This is an indication of the seriousness of the offences he was charged with. Judge Roma told the defendant that his actions indicated he wasn’t concerned for the victim.

It was clear from the Police summary of facts he was well aware that the victim was injured but he continued his work as if doing something would be a burden. “If you did not assist, you should have looked for help,” said Judge Roma.

Mauinatu also did not report the matter to Police. The defendant told the court that he was unaware of the seriousness of the incident until Police approached him. Judge Roma said he should have known.

“I don’t have to remind you that a driver’s duty is the safety of pedestrians and other vehicles on the roads.”

Judge Roma said that a mitigating factor for the defendant is that he pleaded guilty to the charges.

He has also apologised to the victim.

Aside from that, the court gave regard to information from the Probation office which revealed that the defendant was a talented rugby player and his family was dependent on him to provide for them.

Judge Roma’s final advice to the defendant was “do not let this happen again - I tell you now this is the last time”.

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