Hans Dalton was found dead in Tafa'igata Prison, Samoa.
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A man accused of killing a New Zealander in a Samoan
prison cell has been cleared of his murder after a judge
overruled a jury's verdict, it has been reported.
Hans Dalton, 28, was being held in Tafaigata Prison when his
body was discovered head-first inside a water drum on Boxing
His cell-mate Jonathan Patrick Crichton, 22, was yesterday
acquitted of his murder, after initially being found guilty
by the four-person court assessors, or jurors.
Supreme Court Judge Lesa Rapi Va'ai overruled the verdict,
citing Section 100 of the Pacific Island nation's Criminal
Procedure Act 1972, which gives him the power to do so, the
Talamua news website reported.
Judge Va'ai said he would deliver written reasons for his
ruling on Friday.
A tearful Crichton - who is serving a life sentence for a
2012 murder - hugged his crying lawyer after the verdict was
announced, it was reported. He also hugged Mr Dalton's mother
Christine Wilson, as well as Mr Dalton's brother and nephew
who had flown from New Zealand to attend the trial.
"Thank God it has ended and I feel strengthened by the
court's decision," Crichton is reported as saying afterwards.
Mr Dalton, who had mental health problems, was being held in
a Tafaigata Prison cell 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 hours of Boxing Day that his behaviour
grew louder, and he reportedly began swearing, calling out,
and punching the door and wall, preventing Crichton from
sleeping and riling him into anger, the prosecution case
He was later found head-first inside a 44-gallon drum
half-filled with water - used to flush the toilet - inside
his prison cell.
Crichton, of Malifa and Tafuna, American Samoa, was being
held in custody at the time before going on trial for murder
in February 2013.
- Patrice Dougan