I share here salient details of clearly the worst case of family violence brought to New Zealand’s courts – ever. A ‘sadistic’, violent, self-righteous Samoan, father of seven children who beat and tortured his wife (it seems almost daily for 16 years) was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison with a 6 year non-parole period. It’ll make you cry. This animal will receive food, care and mana from New Zealand authorities; his wife and children have received justice and a six-year respite from his incarceration. I write here because the Samoan people as a whole will tut-tut, shrink away in embarrassment and cover it all up, “Not all Samoans are like that!” they will say. The media will be scared to shout it out in case they are challenged at hitting on a country recently hit by a storm and there is fundraising efforts underway to help out those poor “Island” brothers. But, I speak. Oh and just to put it all into context, remember that in 2016, the Samoan PM classified me a “Prohibited Immigrant” because I wrote the book Corruption in Samoa and named his Mistress. I was sentenced in absentia, against the law, by a corrupt crook and lost all . . . [shakes head side to side slowly]!
You can read the actual judgment if you’re brave. I feel for Judge Downs. He had to listen to the whole thing. It’s way too gross to read and I’d never do it after eating or before bed – you’ll lose your dinner or have nightmares.
Here are some actual quotes with the facts explained, excluding sentencing details and legal issue the judge dealt with:
 NZHC 117
Hearing: 13 February 2018
Why they suppressed this guy’s name I’ll never understand. It also makes it hard for other Samoans who will all now be tarred with the same brush and having to defend themselves from suspicion that it is one of their family who got caught!
There are 39 [charges]:
(a) Five of wounding with intent to injure. These charges included variance which alleged maiming or disfiguring. Each of the charges within this bracket is punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment.
(b) Six of injuring with intent to injure.
(c) Twelve of assault with a weapon. Each of these and each of the six injuring charges is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.
(d) One of assault with intent to injure.
(e) Six of breaching a protection order. Each of these is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. So too the assault with intent to injure charge.
(f) Two of male assaults female.
(g) Five of assault on a child. Each of these and each of the male assaults female charges is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment.
(h) Two of common assault, which is punishable by up to one year imprisonment.
 Some of the charges are representative, meaning they allege a pattern of conduct. Reference to the maximum penalty underscores the seriousness of your offending—and your situation.
 You met Ms M at the end of 1998. She was about to turn 21. Ms M left you at the end of 2014. She did so because you had been brutally violent to her for the entirety of your relationship.
 You repeatedly punched her to the head over many years, causing her to lose almost all her sight in one eye. She told you she was losing her sight because of your violence. You continued to punch her to the head.
 You broke several of Ms M’s teeth, again through punches to her face over many years.
 You often used weapons to assault her: metal vacuum cleaner poles, extension cords—whatever was to hand.
This phrase is important – he was clearly an angry person, grabbing anything to hand is what angry violent people do. Cold scheming people prepare and have their weapons ready, their escape plan sussed. This guy is your quintessential Samoan – violent and passionate. Forget strategy or what we would call common sense.
 In February 2001 or thereabouts, you wounded Ms M by hitting her to the head with a broomstick.
 Between 2000 and 2005 you broke her wrist with a wooden pole. It did not heal properly because you prevented her from getting medical help; she had to make her own splint.
What an arsehole! A nasty piece of work.
On another occasion in this same period, you hit her ear with a wooden post. It became infected. And is now visibly deformed.
 Between 2008 and 2010 you smashed a soup bowl across her face. The attack left Ms M with a scar to the jawline.
 On other occasions, you hit her head into a wall and used a piece of wood across her back.
 You would throw things at her too:
(a) A kettle of boiling water at her face. Ms M said this injury “wasn’t too bad” as she showered and changed immediately. But she was in pain for approximately two weeks. She said the burn was “really sore”.
(b) A hair brush at her face. The brush had a sharp point. In her own words it “split [her] head open” and left a scar to her forehead.
(c) A coffee mug. The coffee went down her front. And the mug split her nose leaving another scar to her face.
 Between 2010 and 2014 you drove into Ms M using a car as a weapon, wedging her between it and the garage wall. You sat in the car, watching her while she was in pain. She was pinned to the wall for approximately 10 minutes. You did nothing – other than look on.
This is a revolting and callous sadistic act. She gave him seven kids FFS! How God can forgive this sort of thing beats me, but He does – if we repent.
 The remaining offences of violence in relation to Ms M highlight how you were violent to her from the beginning to the end of your relationship.
(a) In May 2000, Ms M was pregnant. You knew that. You were angry at her because she had been talking to another man. In her words, you slammed the car door into her stomach. She later developed serious stomach pain and miscarried. She went to hospital. She told the specialist what you had done. More about this later.
(b) Fast forward to 2014. Ms M was attending a hospitality course. She and others on it participated in a wine tasting session. When she came home you dragged her through the front door and repeatedly kicked and punched her. Ms M said this assault was “probably one of the top five hidings that I’d had from him”. She said, among other things, you kicked “the shit” out of her. The evidence was clear: you gave her a terrible sustained beating.
When we live in deprived or crisis situations, little phrases like this tell the real picture to outsiders. Note that phrase, “probably one of the top five hidings that I’d had from him”. One hiding and I’d be questioning what I’d married (or hooked up with) and how much I was responsible. Two and I’d be gone! I guess violence is normal for some . . .
(c) In December 2014 you also attacked Ms M with a broom handle. You hit her with it repeatedly to her legs. She wore stockings the next day to conceal her injuries.
 Unsurprisingly, Ms M was often covered with bruises, including to her face. As observed, she would attempt to conceal these with clothing. Or she would lie to others, saying her injuries were the product of accident.
 Now the children.
OMG! Please . . . no! Not the kids too?!
 You and Ms M have seven children. You were brutally violent to six of the seven; the seventh was sent to live in Australia. And, the violence only ended when the children were removed by Social Welfare officers in 2015.
Great but WTF were they doing up until then? 16 years of this sort of stuff, and in NZ?
 A is your eldest. The evidence is clear he bore the brunt of your worst violence in relation to the children. You would regularly hit him with a leather belt, vacuum cleaner pole, jug cord, and garden hose. You also regularly punched him to the face. And kicked him. On at least one occasion, you threw him down a flight of stairs. On another, you threw a metal tin at his head. On occasions, you threw him against the wall. Your violence against A began when he was approximately 10. As with the other children, it continued until 2015, when he was taken away. He was then 15.
 I will not recite in detail your violence against the other five children. It is sufficient to observe you frequently assaulted all of them with a leather belt, and you regularly slapped B, C, D and E to the face. You would also kick F and throw him against the wall. All children were then young. You assaulted F from the age of eight; B from the age of six; C from when she was four; D from the age of three; and E from when she was toddler. It follows your violence formed a regular feature of their lives from when they were particularly vulnerable. And it lasted five years until they were removed from you.
Oh please, please let this stop!
 Your offending exhibits many aggravating features—things that make it worse:
(a) First, it involved different forms of serious and permanent injury to Ms M. You caused her to lose teeth, and much of her vision in one eye. You disfigured an ear. You left other obvious scars on her face and body, all of which were apparent in the trial photographs. And, you caused her to miscarry when you struck her with a car door to the stomach.
 Mr Kovacevich contends the evidence does not establish you did so beyond reasonable doubt. However, this outcome is likely implicit to the verdict. And in any event, I am sure your offending caused Ms M to miscarry given:
(i) Dr Whineray’s expert evidence.
(ii) The level of force you employed.
(iii) The direct application of force to the stomach.
(iv) The temporal link between its application and Ms M’s miscarriage.
 To return to aggravating factors:
Pity this man. A Judge HAS to do this. He’s paid to do it!
(a) Second, you frequently used weapons against both Ms M and your children—anything and everything appears to have been used.
(b) Third, you frequently attacked Ms M to the head, and on occasions your eldest son A too. You would regularly punch him to the head.
(c) Fourth, all your victims were vulnerable, albeit in different ways:
(i) Ms M was undoubtedly a battered woman. You exercised complete control over her until approximately 2014. With one or two exceptions, you would not allow her medical treatment.
(ii) Your children were obviously vulnerable through age. And defenceless.
(d) Fifth, you breached all victims’ trust. As your partner, Ms M was entitled to expect your protection. Your children were entitled to expect that too. You abused their trust in being violent to them on an almost daily basis.
(e) Sixth, some of your offending had a sadistic thread. You would make the children collect weapons for you to use against their mother.
Here is the real heart of this man – sadistic all right and only interested in self.
Sometimes they would pretend they could not find what you had called for. When you pinned Ms M to the garage wall with your car, you watched her for approximately 10 minutes. She was crying and swearing in pain. You watched on.
(f) Seventh, you exercised extreme control over your family. As I have noted, with one or two exceptions, you did not permit medical attention. You controlled Ms M’s bank card or cards. You would make her sit outside in the cold. While she was on a course, you called her at the same time every day. She had to answer, through threat of violence, even though she was in class. Ironically, this is one of the actions that led to your incarceration. You would not permit simple things such as the children playing outside with other children. They had to remain in the house. You also instructed the children to lie to the authorities about your violence. And to demean their mother. You would encourage at least one of the children to call her mother a “slut”. The children often saw you assault their mother, and their brothers and sisters. The result was a climate of fear and control in a household dominated by your violence.
It’s easy to see evil in this story of facts. But let’s just pause and look at the big picture here . . . the control of others to this extent is wrong to most people. Bring it back a peg or two . . . taking out the control of the children for example. Then removing the violence and only keeping in the control of money. At what point does evil dissipate? When does what this man views as his right and we view as evil change? This question can only be answered logically by addressing what caused his actions – more on that shortly.
(g) Eighth, some of your offending was in breach of a protection order: Ms M obtained a protection order in 2007.
(h) Ninth, your offending continued unabated for 16 years. The significance of this feature cannot be overstated.
 For completeness, Ms M and the children did not make victim impact statements. They want nothing more to do with you or the criminal justice process.
Woah – that’s highly revealing. Judges? Courts? Lawyers? Police? Social Welfare? Man, do I feel for this Ms M and the kids! There’s really a big story behind this one if you ask me.
It is highly likely to the point of being almost certain they have suffered in ways you cannot imagine, do not accept—or both. Your offending appears to be of unprecedented seriousness, at least given this mix of charges.
“unprecedented seriousness” – the worst.
The lawyers have helpfully referred me to various cases, but all of these involve less serious offending and shorter offence periods. To be clear, all of the cited cases involve serious violence—just less serious than yours. For example, one of the case involved offending described by the Judge as “about as bad as it gets”. Sadly, there is always a worse case. And for the moment yours is it.
To briefly recapitulate, you brutalised Ms M for 16 years, permanently disfiguring her in several ways. And, you brutalised your children for five years, including with weapons, when some of them were especially young and vulnerable …. the offences then identified by the Police in relation to Ms M were only the tip of the iceberg.
For 16 years? Of course!
 You are 46 years old. You were born in Samoa and raised there by your grandparents. You describe being physically disciplined as a child. But you also say the violence was “not too much”. You have lived in New Zealand since you were 20. You have worked from time to time. Your employment record appears to be haphazard.
Violence is the norm in Samoa and physical beatings from an elder is expected – it is seen as a form of love. If you love your kids, you beat them is the widespread thinking. This man’s perverted thinking can be seen as a cultural norm given the space to extend to its natural extreme.
 You have been examined by a psychologist and psychiatrist. Nothing stands out from their reports.
Do you find this interesting? Does it mean anything to you? Having lived worked and played in Samoa for seven years this is proof positive for me that the root cause of this evil is one man’s pride given a cultural expectation to demand subservience outside of the Samoan context. Putting that simply, at the age of 20 he came to New Zealand with the strong cultural training that physical violence was the norm (physical power); that the boss/chief/head of the home had a godly right to do whatever he wanted (emotional power) and he ended up in a country and culture that allowed him the space to do that – we generally do not busy-body ourselves with others’ business. He came from a highly structured social environment into an open and loose society, let rip and wasn’t called to account until 16 years later when all the damage was done. This is the same with the kids that get caught up in gangs. In Samoa they are told what to do day by day. In NZ they seek leaders to tell them what to do, so they do – steal, rob, crime and it’s just the cultural norm!
 Your criminal history implies difficulty with alcohol and violence. You assaulted Ms M in 2008 and breached the (2007) protection order; she did not then tell Police of your other violence against her and the children. Your record also discloses two other convictions for assault, a conviction for assaulting Police, and a conviction for threatening behaviour. None of these offences attracted significant penalty. However, they confirm a predisposition for violence.
A “predisposition for violence” – yup! A cultural one.
 When confronted by the Police in relation to these allegations, you made some admissions. But your stance then hardened: you pleaded guilty to one charge during trial but defended the balance.
Confession of guilt is not an easy one to address. I actually feel for this guy and understand him pleading not guilty, and the reason is that in Samoa, it is not the crime that matters, it’s the shame that one brings on the family by being caught that matters. It really matters too! For him to plead guilty he would need to have his family tell him to do this OR he would need to knowingly bring shame on his family against their wishes. The saying up there is that “shame is worse than death” and many genuinely believe this. So you have here a guy set-up to be the head of his home; goes overboard and then gets called to account years and years after the events and then asked to “fess-up” and bring his family even more to shame. Nah! Denial at a personal level . . . then denial at a social level – perfectly understandable to me, which is reinforced by the next finding that he “lacks remorse”.
 I find you lack remorse. You told the writer of the pre-sentence report the victims had been “brainwashed” into believing you had harmed them. I pause and note throughout my remarks thus far you have shaken your head. The pre-sentence report offers a glimpse into your thinking. You said you often became frustrated the children were not being properly cared for by your partner. This in turn required your “intervention”.
I think this judge may need counselling in the Samoan culture. A man who has expectations that his family are well presented, well cared for and so on has every right to get angry in Samoa. Remember that the culture is “all about show”. Ten to one that this dude felt he was being watched by his peers or other Samoans, or that someone had said something about poorly dressed kids, or poor family and this was his knee-jerk reaction. If it was a Palagi then this would be even worse.
I can’t tell the exact reason why this animal was shaking his head but again, I bet he was saying to himself, “Judge, you don’t understand! You just don’t understand.”
There is a measure of consensus you do not pose high risk to the public. But that cannot be true in relation to your family.
 You made a point at trial of questioning your children. You often told them you loved them. Their responses were largely the same: you would say that, but your actions suggested otherwise. You also made a point of identifying aspects of domestic life you believed portrayed you in a good light. For example, you wanted them properly fed and clothed. These features are not mitigating.
No they are not mitigating – nothing really could – but they are the likely REASON! I really don’t think that Downs J understands the man he has sentenced, more that he doesn’t truly understand the cross-cultural issues present.
It rings hollow to say you wanted the best for the victims when you hit them on an almost daily basis.
 There are no mitigating factors.
 To recapitulate, the result is a sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment. There will be a minimum period of six years.
 You may stand down.
Which means, “Go to jail, and now!”
This dude deserves to go to jail. He is a violent, ugly, selfish creature who is right where he belongs, now. I do not condone his violence and I describe the cultural issues to teach, not to excuse.
The things that Palagi and outsiders need to understand about this story are:
- Violence is a cultural norm in Samoa. Wives and children are routinely beaten physically. Not everyone does but this is common conduct and cannot be interfered with by social leaders who culturally have little power to intervene in another’s family life. That’s why shame and retribution after the event (such as eviction from a village) is so powerful in Samoa. They cannot culturally interfere and HAVE to respond after the events!
- Beating those in our care is widely interpreted as a form of love. Yes, it is a warped, twisted way of looking at things but that IS reality in the Samoan culture. Children will see this as normal and love in retrospect – we outside of the culture however see it as abnormal and wrong in retrospect.
- In Samoa, and Samoan society outside of Samoa, violence per se is generally not seen as wrong. Samoans do not go running off to the police or the church elders to tell tales when a person of authority whacks someone under their care. Some might cringe but they could never say anything – after all it’s often the Priest or the Cop or the High Chief who is the one dishing it out! What is a problem to Samoans is the shame that comes from being held to account. As an example, the PM up there doesn’t care too hoots about how many people know he’s bonking his favourite CEO – but when you speak about it publicly and bring shame to him and thus to Samoa – well that’s a big deal! Likewise when a boy got caught stealing from us, he got punched up with blood all over his face for causing embarrassment to the family until I as the victim said, that’s enough. No interest in recovering the phone though. It’s all for show!
- The guy responsible defended his grandparents. He would have been beaten severely as a child – guaranteed, but he could NEVER speak ill of them, let alone in NZ and especially not in a court.
Regardless of Samoan or cultural issues, the root cause of violence is always pride. Fear and pain are the two pillars that support this behaviour but extreme control is based on pride. HE has the right to do what HE wants and all will submit to HIM and he will enforce that RIGHT.
Human nature is the same across the planet. It outworks in different cultures in different ways – in the West we think we need to have a huge house in a great area and own a whole bunch of rich things and do fancy things. Again, this is simply pride.
The antidote to pride is humility and this is a choice. When we give up that ugly pride and choose to become humble, small – like Jesus – then and only then can God work His miracle within us and in this case, in Samoan society. Until then you will have violence, more violence and ugliness – be it political or personal, like this sad story.
Samoans will cover this one up. It’s embarrassing for them. When they do, this makes them totally complicit. Saying “Oh, not all Samoans are like that!” is not dealing with the real issue – pride. Samoans who cover it up and pretend that this guy is the only bad one, or only part of a small group of bad ones are just as proud as this guy.
Now that’s brightened your day a little hasn’t it?
Thank your lucky stars that you don’t have a father or spouse that beats you daily huh? Once a month doesn’t seen so bad now does it? [a sad attempt at humour].