18-year-old widow gets nine years

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The forced marriage of a 15-year-old girl to a man has resulted in a double tragedy – the man is dead and his young wife, now 18, is to spend nine years in jail for killing him.
Sentencing Jenny Dei at the Madang National Court last Thursday, Justice David Cannings said the starting point for sentencing for this sort of killing was 13 to 16 years in jail.
However, he said the circumstances that led to the killing and the nature of the incident itself were strong mitigating factors that warranted a more lenient sentence.
He ruled nine years in jail with the pre-sentence period in custody of 14-and-a-half-months be deducted from that.
The court ruled no part of sentence was to be suspended, which means Dei will serve seven years, nine months and two weeks.
The court granted her request to serve her term at Buimo Correctional Institution in Morobe.
Dei wanted to serve her sentence there so she could be closer to her relatives.
“That is a reasonable request and I will sign a warrant of commitment to that effect,” Cannings said.
The court heard that on their marriage, Dei and her late husband, Bob Wari, moved to live at
the Gusap oil palm plantation settlement in Ramu, Madang.
Dei’s home is in Kagua, Southern Highlands.
Dei was charged with the wilful murder of her husband but was convicted of manslaughter after the court rejected her self-defence claim because of her use of excessive force.
Cannings said the court established during the trial significant findings about the sort of marriage, the offender, the deceased and the circumstances of the incident.
“It was accepted that the offender, who was only 18 years old at the time, had been forced to marry the deceased against her will and that he was a violent man who failed to provide for her, routinely took her wages and often assaulted her,” Cannings said.
“Two days before the incident, she lent him K20 but he went off gambling.
“When he returned she asked him about the K20 which made him angry and struck her on the head with a rock.”
This action caused her to use the knife she was holding to stab her husband.
“The post-mortem examination report showed that she inflicted a 13cm wound, penetrating through the neck into the lung, causing the lung to collapse and major blood loss.
Dei was convicted of manslaughter under section 302 of the Criminal Code.