Pokea sentence next month

The Waigani National Court will hand down its decision on sentence next month against the man who was found guilty of murdering former diplomat Dennis Taylor Bebego, in 2014.

Southern Highlands man, Billy Sapsi Pokea returned to court today with his lawyer, where submissions were made in court on what his appropriate penalty sentence should be.

Pokea was given the opportunity to address the court before submissions were made by counsels.

He spoke of his history as a public servant for 26 years and his contribution to the country. He also highlighted his family background and the fact that he has children who are still in school when asking for the leniency of the court.

He closed his address with a request to have him transferred to the Southern Highlands Province to serve his term should the court impose a custodial sentence.

His lawyer submitted in court that a non-custodial sentence would be appropriate and his client put on probation due to his age and medical condition.

Alternately they proposed a sentence term of between 20 to 30 years, and further asked for half that sentence to be deducted and the balance to be suspended.

The State on the other hand asked for the death penalty to be applied in Pokea’s case as the starting point of sentence, per the penalty listed under the charge of wilful murder in the criminal code act.

Alternately, the State asked for a custodial sentence of 60 years due to the nature of the offense.

Trial judge, Justice Nicholas Kirriwom then ordered pre-trial sentence to be prepared to assist the court arrive at its penalty decision.

Justice Kirriwom adjourned the matter to June 23 for sentence.

He convicted Pokea on May 11 over the murder of Bebego after he conducted a trial against him and was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he attacked Bebego with a busk knife with intentions to kill him.

Bebego’s body was found lying in a pool of blood in his own office on July 5, 2014, at the Department of Foreign Affairs office at Waigani after a scuffle with Pokea.

The court refused to accept the evidence Pokea told the court during the trial simply because he gave a detailed account of what transpired on July 5, 2014, during a recorded interview with police five days after the offence was committed.

During the trial, Pokea told the court that he was under intense duress in police custody after he was picked up on July 10, 2014, and was forced to sign a document, which was the record of interview, without knowledge of its content.

He also told the court he was framed by the police and Foreign Affairs staff over Bebego’s death. The court ruled otherwise.


Sally Pokiton