Two brothers, two jail sentences

By Edward Gay

Salofo Aiono and Fereti Aiono. Photo / Sarah Ivey.
Salofo Aiono and Fereti Aiono. Photo / Sarah Ivey.

Two brothers have been jailed this week - one a murderer, the other a repeat drink-driver who ploughed into two young girls and left one in a coma.

Salofo Aiono beat his best friend to death because the friend had slept with his wife. The 37-year-old was sentenced at the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

He was earlier found guilty of murdering Sanele (Mose) Sanato, 36, who died after the violent assault in his South Auckland home in February 2009.

His younger brother Fereti, 27, gave evidence at his brother's High Court trial.

The younger Aiono was sentenced yesterday to two years and 10 months in jail after previously pleading guilty to drink-driving and crashing into two girls who were walking down a South Auckland road.

The court heard how three days before Christmas last year, Fereti Aiono had been drinking bourbon and cola, and despite being a disqualified driver he got behind the wheel of his Ford Fairmont.

Police estimate he was driving at between 75 and 94km/h in a 50km/h zone. Witnesses told the Weekend Herald last year that Aiono hit the kerb before swerving across Manurewa's Wordsworth Rd and wiping out a fence.

Gina, 11, and Carmelite, 8, were out walking when Aiono lost control of his car, hitting the girls and flinging them over a fence. Gina suffered internal injuries while Carmelite was seriously injured and in a coma for 10 days.

Crown prosecutor Mark Williams told the court that Aiono had tried to drive away but his car was too damaged. He also tried to run off, but a passerby stopped him and took him back to the scene.

Aiono blew a breath-alcohol reading of 503 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 400.

The court yesterday heard an emotional victim impact statement from Carmelite's mother, Pepelemi.

She described how everything went "black" when she saw her daughter lying on the ground after the accident. Pepelemi said doctors told her that even if Carmelite did survive, she would have brain damage. "Carmelite needs to be turned regularly over and have her diaper changed - it's like having a baby again."

She wept as she told the court that Carmelite's reading age had gone backwards. "Last year she showed skills as a leader, now she is too scared to do anything."

Judge Charles Blackie said everyone in the court would have been moved by Pepelemi's words.

He said the two innocent girls had had their lives "decimated" by Aiono.

Aiono had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of driving with excess breath-alcohol causing injury, as well as driving while disqualified and failing to stop and check for injuries after being in a crash.

His lawyer, Hermann Retzlaff, said in Aiono's native Samoa people involved in crashes with pedestrians were encouraged to go to the nearest police station instead of stopping. He said drivers had been killed by grieving family members.

"Those were the instructions to me when I asked him if he was trying to leave [the scene]."

Aiono's wife, Deborah, apologised on behalf of her husband and said she would feel just as angry as the girls' families if someone harmed her children. She asked everyone to think twice before drinking and driving.

"When you drink and drive, you may injure someone. Not only will you suffer but your whole family will suffer also."

Judge Charles Blackie took time off Aiono's sentence for his remorse and early guilty plea. He disqualified Aiono from driving indefinitely.

- APNZ

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