The court described the incident as a killing for “no good reason”.
The Waigani National Court today sentenced Felix Ben, of Ihu, Gulf Province, to serve 30 years in hard labour, over the murder of his young wife, who was also expecting their first child at the time.
On the evening of 23 December 2018, Ben while intoxicated had an argument with his wife over a K20 that went missing from her bilum.
The court heard that the subsistence farmer took an axe and struck a blow to his wife’s head, causing her to bleed profusely.
She was rushed on a dinghy to Kerema however, died from loss of blood.
Justice Danajo Koeget, in reading Ben’s sentence, said although the amount of money is not large, such an amount means a lot to someone living in the village.
“You can stand there and see the sun rise in the east and set in the west. You can speak to your parents,” said Justice Koeget.
“The deceased cannot because she is dead. None of us in court can imagine the pain her father, mother and siblings experience. It’s hard to measure. She had a life like yourself to live, till she maybe die of old age or sickness.
“The trouble was over a missing K20 from her bilum. The only person who was there who knew of the money was you,” the court told Ben.
“In a village setting, every toea means a lot, and you lied. You stupidly stole it (K20) and bought alcohol and drank. It was a killing for no good reason,” the judge went on to say.
The court was told he had stolen the K20 from his young wife’s bilum and bought alcohol to drink. The argument was over the missing money, and Ben struck his wife’s head with an axe which caused her death.
The court instead of using the sentencing trend of Manu Kovi vs the state, in deciding a sentence between 13 and 16 years, exercised its powers , given the circumstances of the offence, and imposed a sentence of 30 years in hard labour against the 26-year-old man.
Also before the same court today, a man also from Gulf was acquitted from the charge of manslaughter when the court ruled he acted in self-defense to protect his mother and sister from his brother-in-law.
John Otto Komakapio was found not guilty after he shot his brother-in-law on the shoulder with a bow and arrow at his mother’s house.
The court found he acted in good faith to protect his mother and sister from his brother-in-law, who threatened to kill his sister with two bush knives. The deceased had a history of violence and assault towards the family.