A man accused of murdering a New Zealand man who was found dead head-first in a water drum inside a Samoan prison cell, has gone on trial.

Hans Dalton, 28, was being held in Tafaigata Prison when his body was discovered on Boxing Day 2012.

His cell-mate Jonathan Patrick Crichton, 21, was charged with his murder.

Opening its case in the Supreme Court in Apia, the prosecution argued that Mr Dalton had angered Crichton by being loud in their prison cell, the Talamua news website reported.


Mr Dalton, who had mental health problems, was being held in the jail after becoming aggressive when he lost access to his medication. He had been on holiday in Samoa when the Pacific island nation was hit by a cyclone.

Staff at the hotel he was staying in called for medical assistance but when Mr Dalton could not be calmed, he was taken to the prison.

Prosecutor Precious Chan said Mr Dalton was placed in the cell with two other prisoners, including Crichton, overnight on Christmas Eve 2012. His condition worsened on Christmas Day, and he again became aggressive.

It was in the early on Boxing Day that his behaviour grew louder, preventing Crichton from sleeping and riling him into anger, Ms Chan said.

He was later found head-first inside a 44-gallon drum.

Members of Mr Dalton's family and their lawyer Leuluaiali'i Olinda Woodroffe have flown from New Zealand to attend the murder trial, which is set down for four days.