PAYBACK killing has become a widespread cause for concern and the death penalty should be considered for offenders, National Court judge Justice Graham Ellis said yesterday.
The Wabag-based judge said that if sentence of a life imprisonment did not have a deterrent effect on payback killings, then judges would have to take the next step and impose the death penalty.
Ellis said this when he jailed a 30-year-old Engan man Sakare Monodolao for life for payback killing.
“I do not consider it desirable to impose a deterrent sentence without prior warning as that means that this offender will be subjected to a more severe sentence.
“I prefer the course of making it clear that there are too many payback killings, in Enga and elsewhere.
“Those who are contemplating such conduct and those who are awaiting trial need to know that people who are found guilty following a trial involving payback killing face a real prospect that the court will impose the death penalty.
“I do not know if this is the first warning. However, I do know that this is the final warning.”
The killing happened at Winkos market on June 25, 2008, when Monodolao struck the deceased on the head with a bush knife with such force that the knife came down to the deceased’s chin.
He was then struck a second time by another person, Ellis said, adding that he had no chance of surviving that blow
“That blow was brutal and must have horrified those who were present at that market at that time.”
Ellis said right-thinking people regarded such conduct as offensive, “however, as there are still some in this country who regard payback killings as an age-old custom, it is necessary to change such attitudes and to change the conduct of those who commit payback killings, regardless of whether they occur in a village, a rural town or the national capital”.
He jailed Monodolao “after carefully reviewing the circumstance of this case (as presented to the court by the lawyers defending and prosecuting the matter).
Ellis regarded the following considerations as important in his sentence:
* This was a payback killing of a defence-less person:
* That killing happened in a crowded market area on a day when coffee beans were being bought and sold;
* The victim was struck on the head with considerable force;
* There had been no expression of remorse whatsoever;
* The previous murder of the offender’s uncle and sister did not provide any excuse or explanation for this crime;
* Widespread concern over the level of payback killings; and
* There is a clear need for deterrent sentences in this area.