Saturday, April 01, 2006


More wishy washy Australian "justice"

The grieving father of a man who died after being robbed of his shoes, phone and watch in Brisbane's CBD has called for tougher sentencing laws after learning his son's killer could be out of jail in three years. Moses Rupert Katia, 19, was sentenced yesterday to eight years' jail for the manslaughter of Paul Markham, 23, outside an inner-city pub last February. But sentencing judge Justice Ken MacKenzie recommended Katia be considered for parole after serving three years.

Minutes after hearing the sentence, the victim's father Roy Markham said the punishment would not make up for the death of his son. "There should be set sentences, there should be deterrents, not this carry-on that he didn't mean it or whatever," he said.

The court was told Katia, a graduate from St Joseph's, Gregory Terrace and a member of their first XV rugby side, had drunk up to 15 rum and colas before the attack. He was walking with a friend through city streets shortly after 5am when they came across Markham passed out on a bench outside the Embassy Hotel. They leaned over him and were seen to take his mobile phone and shoes. Security cameras showed Katia returning a short time later and approaching Markham, who was urinating against a row of bins. Katia flicked a piece of rubbish at him before pushing a bin against the back of his legs, causing him to stumble. Minutes later he followed him to a seat 12m away and punched him and stole his watch before fleeing from the scene. Markham, who was also heavily intoxicated, was discovered slumped on a bench by a passer-by who called paramedics. He died in hospital the next day from severe head injuries.

Prosecutor Ross Martin told the court Katia rang police after seeing himself on surveillance footage on the television news of the man wanted in relation to the attack. But Mr Martin said Katia initially distanced himself from the attack and engaged in "damage control" before eventually coming clean on what had happened. Mr Martin said Katia's youth, lack of criminal history, guilty plea and the "modest" level of violence used went in his favour, but the attack was on a "helpless" victim who was then abandoned.

But defence counsel Bob Mulholland, QC, said his client had been oblivious to the fatal consequences of his punch. Mr Mulholland said Katia had given up alcohol, was extremely remorseful for his actions and was a man of "considerable promise", having begun university studies. "It is a case of a young man of considerable promise who lost his way in a mindless act of alcohol-induced violence . . . (that) he will regret for the rest of his life."

Justice MacKenzie had to consider other manslaughter cases when deciding on a sentence – including three sentences of 10, nine and seven years. The two higher sentences involved attacks of much greater violence than that displayed by Katia. He also was obliged to take into account Katia's youth in determining the appropriate punishment. Katia was also sentenced to four years' jail for robbery and six months' jail for stealing, both to be served concurrently with the eight-year sentence. The 153 days he has spent in custody already were declared as time served.

Yesterday's sentencing hearing was moved to court eight – the largest court room in Brisbane's district court building. Dozens of supporters, all sporting pink flowers, rallied to show support for the Markhams. "What happened has affected everybody, and it's important that they (the Markhams) know they're not alone," a woman said as people filed out of the court room. Roy Markham said the gesture was appreciated, particularly after the support shown by school friends of Katia and Matthew William La-Chiusa, who faced charges of stealing relating to the same incident.

Report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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