Ex-gang leader admits bashing teen with baseball bat in fatal brawl

Solomone Taufeulungaki was the victim of escalating gang violence when he was ambushed at a shopping centre in Melbourne’s west and fatally stabbed.

Taataa Tafa, 22, set upon the 15-year-old at the Brimbank Shopping Centre in Deer Park on the afternoon of June 16, 2020, after days of fights between two groups.

Solomone Taufeulungaki was fatally stabbed in a brawl.

Taufeulungaki was dragged to the ground and Tafa used a baseball bat to hit the 15-year-old, prosecutor Erik Dober said in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Thursday.

It’s alleged another accused used a knife to fatally stab Taufeulungaki in the chest.

Taufeulungaki was left to die on the ground of the shopping centre car park as Tafa fled the scene.

Tafa changed his hair and threw his jumper in a bin to disguise himself.

He has pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Tafa initially told police he did not know Taufeulungaki and that he was not there that day.

But Tafa, who was a gang leader, did know Taufeulungaki and believed he was connected to a rival group.

On the day before the 15-year-old’s death, Tafa told other gang members they needed to “arrange a funeral” for their rivals after an earlier fight did not go their way.

Taufeulungaki and a friend were also attacked at a bus stop earlier, on June 16, but the boys were able to run away from Tafa.

The fatal fight outside the Brimbank Shopping Centre would have been “absolutely terrifying” for Taufeulungaki and witnesses, Justice Lesley Taylor said.

Two years on, Taufeulungaki was remembered by his mother as a devoted son and friend who always found a way to make others laugh.

“He always put others before himself,” she said in a statement.

Tafa still associates with gang members but has taken steps toward rehabilitation since being released on bail last August, his lawyer Daniel Sala said.

The 22-year-old faces deportation if jailed for more than 12 months, prompting Sala to call for a shorter sentence and longer community corrections order.

Tafa will remain on bail until Justice Taylor hands down her sentence next month.


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