The Court of Appeal has reduced the sentence of Johnson Namri from 15 to seven years for assaulting his wife inside the Covenant Church in Anamburu with a hammer.

During his appeal, Namri submitted that the judge should have given a deduction on sentence given the appellant immediately surrendered to the police.

The Appeal judges said that the allowance of 12 months by the sentencing judge which they have acknowledged as appropriate was the judge said also for cooperation with the police. No further allowance is required.

They said that the appeal should be allowed and the sentence of Namri on the charge of attempted premeditated intentional homicide to seven years imprisonment to be backdated from March 31, 2017.

The charges of assault and threat to kill he admitted were incorporated within the attempt charge.

Justice John Von Doussa said that this was a very serious charge that warrants a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

He said that Namri planned to kill his wife and tried to carry out the plan by striking his wife on the head at least three times with a hammer.

He said that the assault caused her serious but apparently not permanent injury and this would have been a terrifying events for the victim, given the suddenness of the attack and given the use of a weapon.

He said that it is fortunate to she was ultimately able to fight him off and it is appropriate that the sentence reflects the particular of an assault on a woman arising from a family dispute.

Counsel of the appellant Brian Livo has identified a number of cases in Vanuatu where the offenders have been convicted of intentional homicide and some involve brutal killings and they sentences ranges from eight to 17 years.

“We consider the appropriate start sentence to reflect the relevant facts as we have identified is eight years imprisonment”, he said.

“Counsel of the appellant submits there are four deductions which should be made from the start sentence.

“First the appellant at 43 years of age has had, until this event, a crime free past but we see no reason to differ from the sentencing judge’s decision to deduct 12 months for his previous good character.

“Secondly, Mr Namri spent one year and six months in prison and he is entitled to have that period deducted from his start sentence.

“Thirdly the appellant submits that the start sentence should be further reduced by virtue of section 28 (5) of the Penal Code Act CAO 135 – ‘the criminal responsibility of a person committing an attempted offence who voluntarily withdraws from attempt before the offence has been committed shall be diminished”’.

Justice Von Doussa said that the meaning of the section appears to be what where a defendant, having attempted the crime, voluntarily withdraws before the full crime is committed has diminished responsibility and therefore would be entitled to reduce a sentence.

On March 26, 2017 the victim which is the wife of Namri was at the Covenant Church in Port Vila. Namri walked in and struck her head with a hammer.

He was charged and convicted of attempted premeditated intentional homicide and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

He appeals against conviction and sentence.