Jealousy led to killing, trial told

A man accused of murder over an alleged affair beat and stomped the head of an unconscious man so severely that blood splattered on a nearby car, the High Court at Auckland has been told.

Salofo Aiono, 34, yesterday pleaded not guilty to murdering Sanele Sanato 36, who died after an assault at his South Auckland home in February last year.

Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon, SC, said the two men had been "like brothers", until Mr Sanato allegedly had an affair with Aiono's wife, Tausilia.

While Aiono was in Samoa, Mr Sanato was said to have given Mrs Aiono $40 to help with treatment for her son, who was in poor health. They are also said to have kissed.

She later went to his house where they are said to have had consensual sex. That was the last time Mrs Aiono would see Mr Sanato alive.

She phoned Aiono in Samoa and told him that "something had happened" between her and Mr Sanato.

Aiono returned to New Zealand to find his wife in hospital looking after their ill son. She told him she had been raped by Mr Sanato, a claim she would later retract.

Mrs Aiono cried as she told the court she had lied to her husband because she had been scared.

"I didn't want him to think of me in a bad way and I was scared to admit that it was something that I actually agreed on with [Mr Sanato]," she said.

On February 25, Aiono picked up his brother and went to Mr Sanato's Manurewa house. His brother was in the car while Aiono confronted Mr Sanato and attacked him.

Mr Sanato apparently did nothing to defend himself as Aiono beat him unconscious, repeatedly punching him and stomping his head with enough force to leave splatterings of blood on a car next to him.

Mr Sanato's young nephew, who saw the attack, had testified to police he saw Aiono using a rock or piece of concrete to beat him.

"I know I gave him a hell of a hiding, he's probably dead, I don't know," Aiono is reported to have later told his wife.

Mr Sanato died in Middlemore Hospital's intensive care unit the following morning.

Aiono's lawyer, Panama Le'au'anae, said the defence would not deny that Aiono killed Mr Sanato, but that it amounted to manslaughter, not murder.

The trial continues.

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