Bus crew gets 22 years for passenger's murder

The Supreme Court today confirmed the 22-year sentence of a bus crew who murdered a passenger.

In 2015, the Goroka National Court convicted Andy Wai of murder pursuant to section 300 of the Criminal Code and imposed the 22-year sentence.

In 2017, Wai sought a review of the conviction and sentence on six grounds, five of which were in regards to the availability and credibility of State witnesses.

Today, a bench comprising of Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika and Justices Peter Toliken and Hitelai Polume- Kiele dismissed the “incompetent” appeal.

The court pointed out that Wai’s lawyer had failed to raise objections during the trial and that the two state witnesses clearly identified Wai as the crew of the bus that was travelling between Kainantu and Lae when the incident occurred.

“They both said a wheel spanner was used to strike the deceased. The evidence of Koraro Danny was critical because he said that he saw Andy strike the deceased two times with a wheel spanner. This evidence is consistent with a medical report which states that the deceased suffered a blow to the head with a C shaped bruise on the right forehead measuring about 6 centimeters x 1 centimeters in maximum dimensions.”

Whilst the grounds of appeal involved questions of fact, it was Wai’s failure to follow prescribed law that lost him the appeal.

“In an appeal which raises questions of fact only; leave of the court is necessary as envisaged by [the Supreme Court Rules] Order 7, Rules 3,4,5 and 6 prior to the hearing of the substantive appeal. It is needed to be filed within the 40 days from the date of the judgment.”

In this case, Wai was convicted on December 25, 2015, but failed to give a notice of application for leave to appeal by 2nd February 2019.

“For these reasons, we ruled that it was not open to the appellant in these circumstances to appeal against conviction.”

(Article by Daisy Pakawa - UPNG Journalism Student)

Daisy Pakawa