Court Woes Not Over Yet For Former LTA Legal Officer

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  •  LTA former head of legal division Anoanoa’i Pepe Lafai
    LTA former head of legal division Anoanoa’i Pepe Lafai

Deidre Fanene

The Land Transport Authority former legal division boss is not out of the clear yet after an earlier Supreme Court ruling that exonerated her of deceit charges were overturned in the Appeals Court.

 Ms. Anoanoa’i Pepe Lafai is facing more than 4 charges including the altering of a document with intent to deceive, after a successful appeal by the state prosecution.

 The Appeals Court presiding bench of Justice Robert Fisher, Justice Ian Harrison and Justice Tafaoimalo Tuala-Warren found that Ms. Lafai did deceitfully alter vehicle records.

All the charges are in relations to changing of a registration date on a taxi T-337 on the 13th March, 2018

The new charges against Ms. Lafai was brought before the Supreme Court during the week but she did failed to appear.

Presiding judge, Justice Leiataualesa asked for the whereabouts of the defendant. 

Defence counsel Patrick Fepulea’i informed the court that Ms. Lafai is now residing in Wellington, New Zealand and she is working there.

State Prosecutor Magele Mr. Leone Mailo insisted in court that the defendant should have been present.

Fepulea’i, however, argued that when Ms. Lafai’s matter was dismissed in the Supreme Court she was a free person.    She also flew over to Samoa when the Court of Appeal president over the prosecution appeal.

“But she left for New Zealand before the court of appeal handed down their decision,” said Fepulea’i.

“There were no bail conditions and if that’s the case then prosecution should have imposed bail conditions.”

The defence argument was in response to the prosecution persistence that Ms. Lafai should have waited around until the decision was handed down.

“The defendant should come back and we will file an application for her return but if she does not return then a warrant of arrest will be issued,” said Magele.

Justice Leiataualesa has set the matter down on the 4th of November for defense counsel to file an application for the accused to be excused from the court proceedings.