Prison Escape Artist Aniseko Vailei To Serve 10 More Prison Years

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  • Aniseko Vailei
    Aniseko Vailei

Deidre Fanene

Notorious prison escape artist Aniseko Vailei has an added 10 years to serve at the new Tanumala Prison.

Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren handed the sentence down in court earlier today.

Vailei was convicted of 3 counts of aggravated burglary and 2 counts of aggravated robbery and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for each charge, to be served concurrently.

While all sentences are to be served concurrently, the additional term of 10 years, will be served at the end of his current imprisonment term.

Six victims were involved in the criminal actions while the accused was on the run from Tafaigata Prison.

The first victim ‘Kerry’ is a forty (40) year old female of Aleisa and New Zealand. She is married with children.

The second victim ‘Leon’ is a thirty three (33) year old male of Vailima and Sydney Australia. He is married with two children age seven (7) and four (4).

The third victim ‘Leth’ is a thirty four (34) year old female. She is a Manager of the Noahs Dairy Shop at Moamoa.

The fourth is Teofilo’ a twenty (20) year old male of Siusega and Falemauga. He is single and a student at the University of the South Pacific.

The fifth is ‘Ming’ is a forty four (44) year old male of Vailoa-tai and China. He is married with two (2) children and owns the One and One shop at Vaiola.

 The sixth is ‘Lee’ a forty (40) year old female of Vailoa-tai and China. She is married with two (2) children. The fifth and sixth victims are a married couple.

The reports stated that on Sunday 20th January 2019 at Tafaigata around 6:15am to 8:15am, all prisoners were unlocked from their cells to attend a morning church service at the Prisons Chapel.

The 21 year old was among the prisoners who attended the service.

After the morning service, the prison officials took the prisoners back to their cells they were taken back one cell at the time.

However, before the accused and his co-accused were taken back in, the pair secretly left the Prisons chapel where the service was held.

It stated that the accused and his co-accused broke through the fence surrounding the prison compound and escaped.

The matter was referred to Police for investigation but the escape prompted a crime spree for the defendant and his escape partner that on Sunday 20th January 2019 at Aleisa around 9am to 7pm.

The first victim ‘Kerry’ and her family locked their house and left on a family trip to Falealili.

“Whilst the victim and her family were out on a trip, the accused and his co-accused approached the victim’s house and removed the windows at the front side of the house. The pair then entered the house and stole the following:

One (1) black Samsung J2 valued at NZ$200.00;

One (1) white Skinny Alcatel valued at NZ$200.00;

A Go Pro Camera valued at NZ$60.00;

One (1) Bluetooth speaker valued at NZ$30.00;

One (1) blue and black pack bag and 1 army pack bag to a total value of NZ$30.00;

Jewelleries to a total value of NZ$150.00;

One (1) black ADIDAS jersey and 1 army short total value of NZ$30.00; and cash of $200.00SAT.

THE total value of properties and monies stolen by the accused and his co-accused is NZ$700.00 and SAT$200.00 which is estimated to be within the range of $1400.00 to $1500.00 Samoan talā.

On the second incident, on the 1st February 2019 at Vailima around 2:30pm, the accused and his co-accused approached the second victim’s ‘Leon’ house.

Leon and his wife were out for shopping whilst their two daughters’ age seven (7) and four (4) were waiting alone at home.

The accused made their way to the veranda and commanded Leon’s children to open the front door as they were hungry. At the time, the accused were armed with a machete.

Leon’s eldest daughter opened the front door and the accused and his co-accused entered Leon’s house without authorization and thus they were armed with a machete.

Vailei proceeded to eat bread on the table and afterwards entered the bedrooms and stole the following items:

1 engagement ring valued at AUD$10,000.00 equivalent to SAT$17,630.40;

1 IPhone 6 Samsung valued at AUD$1500.00 equivalent to SAT$2644.50;

1 pair of sport shoes valued at AUD$120.00 equivalent to SAT$211.50;

2 shorts valued at AUD$70.00each equivalent to SAT$123.40 each;

1 gold ring with pearl valued at AUD$300.00 equivalent to SAT$528.90;

1 ring valued at AUD$200.00 equivalent to SAT$352.60;

1 canon camera valued at AUD$2000.00 equivalent to SAT$3526.10;

1 IPad valued at AUD$1000.00 equivalent to SAT$1763.40; and

1 pair of earing valued at AUD$250.00 equivalent to SAT$440.80.

THE total value of properties stolen is SAT$27,345.00.

The 3rd incident was on the 4th February 2019 around 4am at Moamoa, the accused and his co-accused were armed with a machete and approached the third victim’s ‘Leth’ shop.

Vailei and his co-accused removed the window at the back of the shop and entered the shop without authority. They then stole the following properties of the victim:

1 bottle of Jim Beam valued at SAT$103.00;

2 devondale milk valued at SAT$3.30 each totalled $6.60;

1 cell phone bluesky valued at SAT$971.00;

18 large packets of Pall Mall valued at SAT$13.70 each totalled $246.60;

3 small packets of pall valued at SAT$6.70 each totalled $20.10;

1 large packet of Rothman valued at $13.00SAT;

20 small packets of Rothmans valued at $6.00SAT each totalled $120.00;

1 small cocoma cigarette valued at $4.00SAT; and

6 packets of windfield valued at $7.00SAT each totalled SAT$42.00.

The total value of properties stolen is $1,526.30SAT.

On the 11th February 2019 at Falemauga around 2pm, the fourth victim ‘Teofilo’ locked his house and went to check his cattle farm.

Whilst the victim was away from his house, the accused and his co-accused broke the front door’s lock and removed the lock before they entered the victim’s house without authorization.

The accused and his co-accused then stole the following items, properties of the victim:

2 cans of fish valued at SAT$2.50 each to a total of $5.00;1b of sugar valued at SAT$1.50;1b of salt valued at SAT$1.00; 1 CCK coffee valued at SAT$6.00;4 T-shirts valued at SAT$8.00 each to a total of $32.00;1 pad lock valued at $7.00.

The total value of properties stolen by the accused is $52.50SAT.

The other incident occurred on Thursday 21st February 2019 around 3:00am, whilst the fifth and sixth victims’ family were asleep, the accused and his co-accused armed with machetes approached the victims’ house. The victims’ house is a two storey building.

THE accused broke the door handle at the side of the first floor and unlawfully entered the house.

THE accused proceeded upstairs and upon arrival, the front door to enter the second floor was locked.

THE pair walked around in the veranda of the second floor looking for an entry point to the second floor where the victims’ family were living before they stepped on the roof of the attachment of the victims’ house.

 THE victims’ daughter age 15 heard footsteps of the accused and his co-accused walking on the roof and she woke up the victims.

THE fifth victim ‘Ming’ opened the front door and went downstairs to check.

THE accused and his co-accused who were both armed with machetes approached Ming on the stairs and dragged him down.

WHISLT the accused was about to strike the victim, the victim held the machete immediately in his hand to avoid being hit.

SIMULTANEOUSLY, the accused’s co-accused was choking the victim from behind and pushed the victim on the floor.

THE sixth victim ‘Lee’ and her daughter who followed behind came to check on Ming as he has been gone for a while.

LEE arrived at the scene and upon seeing the accuseds assaulting Ming, screamed as she was very scared.

THE victims’ daughter ran back and hid in her room.

THE accused pulled the machete from Ming’s hand cutting the victim’s hand and chased after Lee with the machete. The co-accused followed the accused.

LEE tried to close the door but she was caught by the accused at the door. The accused then covered Lee’s mouth with his hand and pushed her on the floor.

THE victim wrestled with the accused over the machete whilst on the floor but she was unable to stop the accused.

THE accused pulled the machete from Lee’s hand which cut her thumb. The accused then punched the victim’s head causing the victim to lie down on the floor as she had felt concussed.

WHILST Lee was on the floor, the accused kicked Lee on the waist.

THE victims’ son age 19 ran to the scene and upon arrival, the accuseds waved their machetes at him in a threatening gesture.

THE victims’ son ran to his room and the accuseds chased after him with the machetes. The accuseds pushed the room door but were unable to open it.

THE accused and his co-accused then proceeded to Ming and Lee’s room and stole SAT$60,000.00 cash that was kept in the drawer. Ming and Lee ran to their room few minutes later and discovered that the monies had gone missing.

The accused left the premises before the police arrived at the scene.

AS a result of the offending, the fifth victim sustained a deep cut in his hand and the sixth victim sustained a cut to her thumb.

The amount of SAT$10,000.00 in cash was recovered when the accused was found and the monies were returned to the fifth victim.

All these separate matters were reported to Police for investigation and on the 22nd February 2019, an informer notified the Police of the accused’s whereabouts.

The Police officers and Prison officials attended to the call and searched the accused at Tapatapao where he was caught and was taken to Apia Police Station.

On the 23rd February 2019 and 3rd March 2019, the accused was cautioned at Apia Police Station where he admitted to the offending.

Justice Tafaoimalo stated that the accused started getting into trouble with the law when he was 16 years old, some 5 years ago.

“From his previous conviction card he was given community based sentences before the Court finally imprisoned him for his offending starting in 2015 up to 2018.

“The Court has given him chances, has sent him to rehabilitation, but these have not worked. His family, church and village have been noticeably absent during these 5 years.

“The Court has been the only institution which has tried to assist the accused.

“The nature of his previous convictions, of which there are 22, are similar to the offences for which he is being sentenced today, except that his offending has become violent, with aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery and causing actual bodily harm.

“He committed these offences when he escaped from prison where he was serving a custodial sentence for similar offending.

 “He committed these offences between 20 January 2019 and 11 February 2019, a period of approximately 3 weeks. “

According to one of the victim Kerry she said that they had left for a family trip to Falealili at 9am and upon their return after 6pm discovered that their house had been broken into and properties stolen. They live at Aleisa.

“Leth is the manager of a dairy at Moamoa and they watched the 2 accused walking around the shop downstairs on camera at around 4am on 4 February 2019.

“They were walking around with machetes and taking goods from the shop and they tried to get into their room upstairs and now they are worried about their safety.

“Ming has said in his Victim impact report that his customers and staff are also fearful.”

Justice Tafaoimalo went on to say that on three occasions, the accused and his co-accused entered homes which were either unoccupied as the occupants were out or they did not come into contact with the occupants.

“On two occasions though, which are the most serious of these offences, they entered people’ s homes while there were occupants and armed with machetes,” she said.

“It is these offences which will attract the higher imprisonment terms.

“On one occasion they forced children aged 7 years and 4 years to open the door as the children were home alone while their parents were out shopping. The accused and co-accused were armed.

“They ate then stole property to the value of $27, 345.00.

“This experience would have been terrifying for these very young children.”

Justice tafaoimalo added that it concerns her that the young children were left at home alone and she caution parents, in particular these parents against leaving children this young at home by themselves.

“The accused and his co-accused were armed and this situation had the potential to erupt into violent offending. Fortunately for these children they were unharmed,” she said.

She went on to say that in the last offending it left two people injured.

“Again the accused and co-accused were armed with machetes and entered the home at 3am.

“There was a terrifying physical and violent attack on two victims who were husband and wife.

“The victim’s two teenage children ran terrified to their bedrooms. They had both witnessed the violence being inflicted upon their parents. It is a struggle to fathom that this happened in Samoa, as they say ‘this is the stuff of movies’.

“The public needs to be vigilant as home invasions have become more violent and as we saw just last month, a Chinese victim of a home invasion was killed.”

Justice Tafaoimalo said Vailei is no longer a burglar but rather he is a violent offender who has no regard for people’s homes or their lives.

“There is an urgent need to address this type of offending, which involves potentially lethal weapons used by offenders such as the accused with no regard for human safety,” she said.

“The reason for the weapons is no doubt to intimidate, threaten, frighten and perhaps ultimately kill.

“The sentence today will be a deterrent sentence as we get closer to the high risk period of the festive season and is firmly aimed at protecting the public.

“We must stop this offending now, before it escalates into prevalence which makes it hard to control. The risk to the public is too great.”

Prosecution has rightly recognized the risk and has submitted high starting points of imprisonment for the most serious offences.

She told the accused that he is no stranger to the Courts and in particular he is no stranger to the Judge.

“If you recall you appeared before me in the Youth Court and the Youth Court team tried its best to find a place for you to be attached so that you would find purpose and keep away from criminal offending,” she said.

“You were not honest in that placement which was with the Samoa Weightlifting Association which I acknowledge for their efforts with you.

“As a result you continued to appear in Court, every year since 2013 till this year.

“You have been sent to prison many times, and one of those times, I sent you to prison for two years for similar offending.

“You have shown no remorse for any of your actions. You have become a violent offender.

“The only options open to the Court, moving into the future, for any other offending that you commit, is to send you to prison.

“You have continued to escape from prison which should not happen and the Correction authorities need to address the’ prisoner escape’ issue urgently.”

When Justice Tafaoimalo asked Vailei if he had anything to say the 21 year old told the court that he is getting beaten up inside the prison.

 Justice Tafaoimalo also ordered prosecution to look into the defendant’s complaint.

“You have raised an issue about the Corrections officers and police beating you,” she said.

“The Prosecution is ordered to assist with this issue and help the accused make a complaint, if they deem it appropriate.”

She told Vailei to think very hard if this is the way he wants to take.

“You will now be imprisoned for a very long time,” she told the defendant.

“You will have to reassess whether this is the way you want to live your life.

“When you come out of prison you will still be a young man. Do not choose to waste your life in prison, as the Courts will not hesitate in sending you back to prison for as many times as it takes to deter you from criminal offending and to protect the public.”

In handing her decision she started with the most serious offences of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary of which there are 3 counts of aggravated burglary and 2 counts of aggravated robbery.

“Having considered the aggravating factors relating to the offending, I place the starting point for imprisonment at 11 years for each charge and I uplift that by 1 year for the aggravating features pertaining to the accused,” she said.

“This brings the starting point to 12 years. I deduct 2 years for his belated guilty pleas.”