The National- Thursday, January 20, 2011
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
ELIS Onda, on July 4, 2009, coldly and with premeditation drowned all four of her children in the Kum River near Mt Hagen in Western Highlands.
Driven by marital problems, her plan had been to drown herself along with her children but the river swept her to the side and she survived.
Yesterday, the Mt Hagen National Court sentenced Onda to life imprisonment for the murder of eight-year-old Angeline, Tresy, 7, Naomi, 5, and two-year-old Solomon.
Justice Allan David found Onda guilty on four counts of wilful murder.
The court heard that on July 3, 2009, the prisoner dressed her children in their best clothes and took them to Warakum, telling her children that they would see a relative.
She took them to the banks of the river where they waited until 4am before she executed her plan.
She picked up Solomon, who was sleeping, and threw him into the river. She then picked up Naomi, who was also sleeping, and threw her into the river.
Then, grabbing the arms of her bigger daughters, Angeline and Tresy, she jumped with them into the river.
All the children drowned but she was swept to the side of the river by the current and survived.
She later contacted police who conducted a search and found the bodies of her children in the river.
David said he had considered the death penalty, even though the public prosecutor did not make any death penalty submission, but that her marriage problems, which prompted her macabre plan, were mitigating factors.
He told the prisoner that the court spared her life after considering submissions made by state that she was forced to commit the crime because of her marriage problems.
The judge told her that a child, once born, had the right to life as guaranteed by section 35 of the constitution.
He said the prisoner had ample time to call off her plan but she persisted, driven by problems of her marriage, to kill young, innocent and defenceless children.
He said it gave him much pain to think that the deceased, of tender years, were made to suffer slowly by drowning.
David said the deceased children had nothing to do with her problems, even if they were part of the problems.
The prisoner had no right to shift the problem she was overwhelmed with onto her children and offered them as sacrificial lambs as it were for a solution.
Her actions were cruel and inhuman and she had no regard for the sanctity of life, the judge said.
“I have considered imposing the death sentence but, having considered all of the foregoing factors, I consider that
it will not be just and appropriate to do so,” he said.
David sentenced Onda to life imprisonment in respect of all counts to be served concurrently at the Baisu jail.