29 June 2021

Sentencing for men in Kokomo's brawl delayed due to COVID-19 lockdown

| Albert McKnight
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Police guard the scene outside Kokomos

Police guard the scene outside Kokomo’s in Civic after Pitasoni Ulavalu’s murder. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown has created a delay in the ACT court system, impacting several cases relating to the fatal fight in Canberra in which a bikie boss was murdered.

Three men who admitted they were involved in the brawl at Kokomo’s on 19 July 2020 where Canberra Comanchero’s commander Pitasoni ‘Soni’ Ulavalu was stabbed to death were due to be sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (29 June).

Maximilian Ellis Kurt Budack, Matthew Rokosuka Vakatagi Kupu and Osaiasi Avanua Sydney Kupu had each pleaded guilty to a charge of affray.

But stay-at-home orders were brought in to cover all of Greater Sydney due to the coronavirus situation; as a result, the sentencing for Kupus and Budack was adjourned.

A spokesperson from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said the matter was adjourned as the three defendants’ lawyers were from Sydney and got caught up in the NSW lockdown.

They said the matter is now listed for 23 September.

Frederick Elijah Mercy Tuifua has previously pleaded guilty to a charge of murder, admitting that when he was 26 he killed Mr Ulavalu during the brawl.

In May, one man, who cannot be named, was sentenced in the ACT Magistrates Court over his role in the brawl after he also pleaded guilty to a charge of affray.

READ MORE Fatal fight at Kokomo’s was filmed by bystanders

He received six months’ jail, suspended for a 12-month good behaviour order.

CCTV was shown to the court during his sentencing. In the footage, recorded by cameras in and just outside Kokomo’s, a crowd of people can be seen gathering around tables in the nightclub. These people start throwing punches, then the brawlers smash into tables and chairs.

During the melee, Tuifua can be seen striking Mr Ulavalu hard in the neck before the bikie boss stumbles around the room and eventually walks out of the screen.

Another man who cannot be named is also charged with affray.

Tuifua is the only person accused of murdering Mr Ulavalu. He will be sentenced at a later date.

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