By BOURA GORUKILA
A WARD councillor who shot dead a final-year university student on holiday in his village in Jiwaka two years ago has been jailed 30 years with hard labour.
Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika told Sent Koip, 38, in the National Court in Minj, that he had been reckless in his action.
“You took the law into your own hands when you discharged an unlicensed firearm irresponsibly, that took the life of an innocent young man who could have contributed meaningfully in your community and also in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“You as a community leader had a duty to be responsible but you abused that responsibility, instead of addressing your issues at an appropriate forum with a youth you said had been disturbing one of your tenants.”
Koip, from Kindeng in the Anglimb district of Jiwaka, was found guilty of killing Stenic Whome Poiya, a 25-year-old Tourism and Hospitality final-year student at the University of PNG, on Dec 14, 2019.
Poiya was spending the Christmas holidays in his village, and was to return to UPNG in April 2020 for his graduation.
Koip had told the court that he was trying to fight off a drunk person when he fired his unlicensed handgun at the direction of his assailant who was feeling into the darkness.
It was at the same time that Poiya and four friends were walking home from Kindeng market at about 8pm. Koip fired at least three rounds, with one hitting Stenic.
Koip will spend 29 years and one month at the Barawagi Prison in Chimbu.
In April 2020, UPNG awarded posthumously Stenic’s Bachelor in Tourism and Hospitality degree “out of respect and to show that the student deserved the degree”.
UPNG executive officer Herra Onno said Poiya was a final-year tourism and hospitality student and would have been eligible to graduate that month.
Onno said it was UPNG’s policy to “graduate students who have died”.
“The university will posthumously graduate the late student Stenic Poiya,” Onno said.
Onno told The National that it was unfortunate for Stenic to “go like this, given the fact that he had worked hard to reach that stage and get his degree”.
“A lot has been sacrificed for him to come this far and it saddens us that he won’t be here to receive his degree,” Onno said.
“As a community here (UPNG) we will play our part in honouring him by giving his degree to his family.”
By BOURA GORUKILA