Vulnerable man who stabbed his own brother, 24, to death in self-defence is jailed for five years
- Sonny Poutu was convicted of killing his 24-year-old brother Tamaheri Tumai
- Poutu, who was 18 at the time, suffers from rare brain disease leaving him at risk
- A Supreme Court jury found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter
- Judge sentenced Poutu to five years in prison, backdated to April 2019
A vulnerable young man with a rare brain disease who fatally stabbed his older brother in self-defence in Western Australia’s south has been jailed for five years.
Sonny Poutu, then aged 18, was convicted of killing 24-year-old Tamaheri Tumai during an altercation at a home in Jerramungup, near Albany, on Easter Saturday last year.
A Supreme Court jury found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Sonny Poutu, then aged 18, was convicted of killing 24-year-old Tamaheri Tumai (pictured) during an altercation at a home in Jerramungup, near Albany, on Easter Saturday last year
The trial heard Poutu had been diagnosed in 2016 with Moyamoya disease, a rare and life-threatening brain condition which had caused him to suffer several strokes and meant any blows to the head could cause fatal harm.
He and his brother had been drinking heavily throughout the day and when Poutu refused to let Mr Tumai drive, he was choked, gouged and punched in the face by his older, stronger and more than 30kg heavier sibling.
Chief Justice Peter Quinlan said the attack had left Poutu ‘angry and frightened’ but he had done the right thing by leaving the scene and returning to a friend’s house.
Mr Tumai arrived a short time later in search of Poutu, who armed himself with a knife.
The pair argued and Poutu stabbed his approaching older brother in the chest and abdomen before attempting to apply first aid.
Chief Justice Quinlan said he was satisfied Poutu had reasonably believed it was necessary to defend himself against a further attack and that his vulnerability because of his brain disorder had been a factor in that.
But his response was not proportionate to the threat he was facing.
‘By stabbing Mr Tumai in what were likely to be lethal blows, you went too far and went further than the law allows,’ the judge said.
‘You do understand that, in all of the violence and confusion of that day, you went too far.
‘That is why you are so genuinely remorseful and ashamed for having killed your brother, because you know that, even though he had been violent towards you, he was your precious brother who you loved.’
He accepted that Poutu had only been intending to scare his brother when he picked up the knife.
‘Until the last moment, I accept that Mr Tumai was the main aggressor in the altercation between you,’ he said.
Chief Justice Quinlan found that Poutu, now aged 20, was a person of good character and his mother, a church pastor, had spoken of her unwavering love for both men.
He sentenced Poutu to five years in prison, backdated to April 2019.
Poutu will be eligible for parole after serving three years.