Fruit picker killed ‘trying to break up a fight’
A Riverland fruit picker who intervened in a fight between his co-workers, in order to defend another man, died as a result of a single blow to the face, a court has heard.
Manu Vi, 25, of Tonga, faced the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Tuesday by video link, and has yet to plead to one count of murder.
The charge arises from an incident at Paringa, 260km north east of Adelaide, on August 2.
Vi was originally charged with manslaughter after his alleged victim, a 29-year-old Vanuatu national, did not show up for work the day after the incident.
That man, who has yet to be named in court, was found unresponsive in his cabin that night and rushed to hospital, but died two days later.
On Tuesday, police prosecutors said the charges against Vi were subsequently upgraded to murder.
"This was an incident between fruit pickers living and working at Paringa," they said.
"There was a fight, the victim intervened and has taken a blow to the face which has, ultimately, killed him.
"There are numerous matters still to be investigated … police are currently taking in excess of 40 witness statements."
They said language difficulties had complicated investigations.
"This is a complex matter, and the majority of the witnesses are from Vanuatu or Tonga," they said.
"There are issues with obtaining statements relating to the witnesses from Vanuatu.
"We are having to use people in Vanuatu to translate because there is not anybody on shore to do that translation."
They asked the case be adjourned until May to complete investigations and hand the evidence to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Magistrate Elizabeth Sheppard said the delay was "unfortunate" but understandable, and remanded Vi in custody until then.
Originally published as Fruit picker killed 'trying to break up a fight'