What are the Penalties for Murder in NSW?

 

It is reported that a Sydney criminal lawyer Ho Ledinh was shot dead in daylight while having tea with friends at the Happy Cup Café in Bankstown.

The 65-year-old lawyer was shot within the vicinity of families on 23 January 2018.

His death had shocked Sydney’s Vietnamese community.

While investigations are continuing, police may continue to make more arrests after suspicions that some involved allegedly have bikie gang links.

After being shot at the café, the father of 5 passed away after desperate attempts were made by good Samaritans and paramedics to save his life.

 

The Alleged Murder Plan

It is alleged that 34-year-old Abraham Sinai had hired a hitman to carry out the murder, while Sinai’s wife helped orchestrate it.

38-year-old Arthur Kelekolio is accused of executing the hit by allegedly firing 3 shots at close range at the criminal lawyer before fleeing the scene by foot.

It is alleged that prior to the shots being fired, Sinai’s wife, 35-year-old Analosa Ah Keni had the criminal lawyer under surveillance prior to the shots being fired. Police also allege that she gave the gunman a disguise and provided her grey Nissan car to be used as a getaway.

Kelelolio was arrested by police moment before he was trying to depart to Bali. He was stopped at the Sydney International airport.

Sinai’s wife, Ah Keni was subsequently arrested about a month after. She at the time was about 3-months pregnant.

Sinai was arrested at his Leppington home on Thursday morning by heavily armed police. He was then taken to the Narellan Police Station.

All three have now been charged with murder.

Onlookers appeared traumatised from the “hideous act of violence”, police say.

 

The Alleged Motive

Commander Scott Cook, from NSW Homicide Squad said, “We believe this dispute was largely over money.. Hundreds of thousands of dollars… I’d particularly like to thank the community of Bankstown.. They’ve stepped up and provided their police with information that’s been crucial to this outcome.”

It is believed that the motive for the murder was over a dispute involving about $200,000.

While at this stage it isn’t clear whether Sinai was in dispute or simply acting for someone in dispute with the criminal lawyer over $200,000. Police believe that this sum was the motivation behind the execution.

Cook said, “We will be alleging there was a dispute over money.”

“What we know [is] the person who’s been arrested today was responsible for contracting the person [who pulled the trigger].”

“We believe this [is] related to a dispute over money, a significant amount of money. We believe the dispute was ongoing for some time before the murder.”

It is reported that following Kelekolio’s arrest, Ah Keni’s phone call to her husband was intercepted by police where it is alleged that she said that she had paid twenty-five thousand dollars for a lawyer for the alleged gunman, who would “not say anything”.

No bail application was made by Sinai, in which case bail was formally refused by the Magistrate on Thursday when he appeared at the Campbelltown Local Court.

What are the Penalties for Murder in NSW?

The crime of murder in NSW carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment under section 19A(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

If a person convicted of murder is sentenced by the court to life imprisonment, the offender will then be required to serve that sentence for the term of his/her natural life (section 19A(2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).

However, the court will only impose a life sentence to someone guilty of murder if the prosecution is able to prove that the criminality of the offending conduct (murder) was extreme enough that a life sentence of imprisonment is appropriate in light of the purposes of punishment. The purposes of punishment include, specific deterrence, general deterrence, retribution, protection of the community and the community’s interest in imposing punishment.

When determining the extent of criminality of the offence, the court will look into factors such as premeditation, planning, amount of violence etc.

The sentencing court will also consider other factors in assessing whether to impose a life sentence. These factors include subjective features of the offender, such as remorse, insight and prospects of his/her rehabilitation. These factors are relevant to the purposes of sentencing under the law.

A sentencing court will generally begin to move away from imposing a life sentence if there are strong subjective features of the offender.

In the event a court decides to not impose a life sentence to a murderer, the court will then impose a definite sentence. This will involve the court imposing a minimum period the offender is required to be incarcerated for before being eligible for release back into the community on parole.

That minimum period in custody is referred to as the non-parole period, while the period he/she will be eligible for release is referred to as the parole period.

Generally, a convicted murderer will be wanting a greater parole period so that the non-parole period will be shorter. The Judge can be convinced to do this if there are strong enough subjective features of the convicted offender.

Standard Non-Parole Period for Murder in NSW

On or after 1 February 2003, anyone convicted of murder in NSW will be left to face a 20-years standard non-parole period for murder.

The standard 2-years non-parole period for murder is not a mandatory requirement for a court to impose. Rather, it is used as a guidepost to assist the court in coming to a fair and appropriate sentence.

But even if the court intends to impose this standard non-parole period, it only applies if the case is assessed by the court as being in the mid-range of objective seriousness (criminality) for such an offence.

Determining whether it is in the mid-range of objective seriousness is assessed based on factors of the offending such as level of pre-meditation, extent of violence and planning involved etc.

What are the Elements of a Murder Charge that the Prosecution Must Prove?

A Court can only find the accused person guilty of murder if the prosecution is able to prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt under section 18 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW):

  1. The accused voluntarily did something causing death to the victim; and
  2. The accused at the time of doing this:
    1. Intended to cause really serious injury or permanent (or serious) disfigurement; or
    2. Intended to cause death; or
    3. At least realised the probability of death occurring from his/her actions at the time; or
    4. The victim’s death came about while the accused was committing a crime which the law attaches a maximum penalty of 25-years or more for (this is referred to as ‘constructive murder’).

There are numerous available defences to a charge of murder in NSW. Some includes, mental health defence, self-defence, or where the accused person’s actions were involuntary (i.e. epileptic fit or because of medications).

Do you have a question you wish to ask our Sydney criminal lawyers? call our 24/7 hotline on (02) 8606 2218 to arrange a free first consultation.

About Jimmy Singh

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

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