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AN 18-year-old man who pleaded guilty to cutting his brother in-law’s legs with a knife last year, resulting in his disability, has been sentenced to 22 months in prison.
Aron Waiti was jailed on Thursday for one count of grievous harm by Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga.
Mr Aulanga in his sentencing remarks said whilst the need not to strain the family relationship and to mend the relationship between family members is important in a family unit, the court should not unnecessarily succumb to that notion and leniently sentence an offender for serious crimes committed against a family member and disregard the objective seriousness of this offence.
“If for the sake of family the law is applied and treated the offenders in a special way and disregard the need for deterrence then this will serve no justice to victims of domestic violence who continue to suffer at the hands of their own family members,” Mr Aulanga said.
“Otherwise, this will indirectly encourage individuals in a family to take the risk of committing serious crimes against their own family members knowing that the court will leniently punish them at the end of the day,” he added.
“Hence, a sentencing practice that promotes leniency for offenders who commit serious crimes against a close family member in my view needs a paradigm shift in order to gain the trust and faith that victims of domestic crimes have in our judicial system.
“What the defendant had done to his own brother in-law in this case shows total disrespect and inhuman treatment towards his own family member.
“He treated him as his enemy or a stranger and not as a family member.
“No sane and responsible person can ever do this to his own brother in-law especially when it was committed against the victim who was performing a public duty trying to control the defendant who was drunk and acted disorderly inside their community,” Mr Aulanga said.
He said in this case the victim suffered pain, inconvenience and disability as a result of the knife wound.
Mr Aulanga said the victim was wounded whilst performing a public duty trying to control the defendant who was drunk and disorderly inside their community.
“The attack on him was clearly unprovoked and uncalled for in that prevailing situation.
“Also, the defendant had a hostile intention to strike the victim with the knife as demonstrated by his initial behaviour and utterance of the words to him.
“He labelled the victim as one of his family members who he had disagreed with when he advanced towards him with the knife.
“Finally, he was drunk and used a bush knife being a dangerous weapon to commit the offence,” Mr Aulanga said.
He said when all these aggravating factors are considered, clearly, it is a serious form of offending and one that warrants a condign punishment.
Waiti punched his brother in-law before cutting both his legs with a bush knife on 29 November last year.
The victim was following Waiti to control him since he was drunk when Waiti pulled out a bush knife from their neighbour’s kitchen and cut him.
The victim’s legs were bleeding heavily as a result of the knife wounds and he was transported to the National Referral Hospital.
Mr Aulanga imposed a head sentence of 24 months imprisonment but deduct two months to reflect Waiti’s youthfulness, delay in the matter and other mitigating factors.
Waiti is also currently serving a burglary sentence.
Public Solicitor’s lawyer Lazarus Waroka represented Waiti while Police Prosecutor Iete Tebakota represented the State.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN