Is There a Maximum Life Jail Sentence for Murder in NSW?


It is reported that in September 2017, firefighters attended the home of couple Sabrina Kouider and Ouissem Medouni following reports by neighbours of a foul smell from their Wimbledon home.

35-year-old sabrina Kouider and 40-year-old Ouissem Medouni were found barbecuing chicken.

Next to the burning chicken appeared the charred parts of a human body, namely fingers and human nose, noticed by firefighters.

The couple had tried to pass off the burnt body parts as sheep carcass.

The charred body parts found next to the chicken were later discovered to be 21-year-old Sophie Lionnet who was the pair’s nanny.

Sophie, from France had relocated to the UK to nanny the couple’s two kids.

Sabrina began suspecting that Sophie was there to spy on their family. Sabrina was convinced that her ex-partner Mark Walton had sent Sophie to sexually abuse & intoxicate their children, and then frame them for it.

The couple imprisoned Sophie for twelve days in their 2-bed apartment. There was hours of video footage that the couple recorded depicting Sophie being accused of being a paedophile and spying.

Sophie who looked terrified and frail being threatened by the couple with violence, jail and rape.

Her passport & return ticket to France were never found.

Eventually, to survive, Sophie falsely conceded to being in a relationship with Mark, after the couple had water-boarded her in the bath. She died hours after.

Given the state that her body was discovered by police in, it was not possible to ascertain how she was murdered.

A post-mortem was conducted, revealing the escalating violence, fractures to her sternum, ribs and jawbone leading up to her death.

The couple then blamed the other, each denying the murder.

In court, Sabrina said that her partner waterboarded Sophie in the bath. Sophie said that he then wanted to have sex, and while in a state of shock, she let him satisfy himself while Sophie’s body was nearby.

Sabrina said, “What are you doing”.

Sabrina claimed that after he finished, he told her that he was so stressed. She also said that she was crying while this was occurring.

The Judge said that this was a case with the hallmarks of a psychosis known as folie a deux (‘madness of two’). This is known as when one person’s delusion is shared to the other.

Sabrina has a borderline personality disorder. She was the ‘driving force’ while her partner Ouissem was the weal willing party to it.

In context that Sabrina had a fixation with her ex-partner, Mark, she had created a fantasy with an evil villain, Mark who had seduced Sophie with sex and promises of Hollywood stardom.

Sabrina’s partner subsequently came to also believe her twisted fantasy world.

The prosecution has said that the couple murdered Sophie out of pure ‘revenge and punishment’. They had an ‘unhealthy, myopic, all-consuming & groundless’ obsession with Mark, which had taken away their ability to reason, turning Sophie as their nanny into ‘something less than human’.

The couple were found guilty of murder in May 2019. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment.

Sophie was known as a gentle, kind and timid person by her friends.

Is There a Maximum Life Jail Sentence for Murder in NSW?

In, NSW, Australia- the maximum punishment for murder is life imprisonment, which is the offender’s natural life behind bars. This is outlined in section 19A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The court will only impose a life imprisonment sentence if the amount of criminality is so extreme that only a life prisons sentence would be appropriate, considering the purposes of punishment, namely, community interest in punishment, community protection, deterrence & retribution.

If the court decides not to impose a life imprisonment sentence, the court will be required to impose a 20-year standard non-parole period if the offending is considered in the mid-range of objective seriousness for this kind of offence.

The standard non-parole period for murder only applies if the murder occurred after 1 January 2003.

The standard non-parole period is the minimum period of jail time that a convicted offender is required to spend behind bars before being eligible for release back into the community on parole.

Murder and manslaughter is also defined in section 18 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Murder is when a person voluntarily does something causing another person’s death, and at the same time, also:

  • Intends to cause really serious injury or permanent or serious disfiguring; or
  • Realised the probability of causing the death; or
  • Was at the time of death committing another criminal offence carrying a maximum punishment of 25-years or more (constructive murder).

See our previous article on the defences for murder.

For more information on the law and murder, contact our team of criminal lawyers in CBD Sydney and Parramatta. Our team specialise in criminal law.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.


  What Our Clients Say

Tayla Regan represented me and got me the perfect result against all odds. The way she handled the entire process and had me in the loop with her way of… (read full review) By M.M. on 15/10/2018
I am stunned by the result. I have been to four lawyers before met with Jimmy and Tayla. Very caring listening experience understanding lawyer and my result with this Criminal… (read full review) By A.E. on 18/10/2018
Tayla Regan was the best lawyer we could have asked for. She handled our case with an amazing attitude and worked tirelessly until she acheived the result we wanted. Was… (read full review) By D.P. on 10/10/2018
Living in WA I needed to find a Law firm and Lawyer to represent me in a Vexatious application in NSW. They couldn't act for me till I had transferred… (read full review) By B.B. on 25/09/2018
Tayla Regan helped me dramatically to achieve a section 10. She helped me gather all of the required material I needed for my case and also gathered a lot of… (read full review) By K.J. on 23/09/2018

Free Conference Booking Form

Follow Us