Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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HomeIssue 13Final act in a history of violence

Final act in a history of violence

A man convicted last week for the reckless manslaughter of his wife had three previous convictions for assault against her and another for assault against his father.
A Domestic Violence Order was in place to protect his wife from him but this didn’t stop Sebastian Kunoth from brutally assaulting her at Abbott’s Camp on Christmas Day 2012. Both were “highly intoxicated”. He became jealous when he saw her dancing with other men. He punched her, kicked her, dragged her out of the house, brought down on her head a broken piece of concrete weighing almost two kilograms and beat her over the head with a stick.
He then put the concrete block in a tree and walked away. She was bleeding profusely and an ambulance was called. She stopped breathing while being treated by paramedics but was revived. She died in hospital on December 28 as a result of her injuries.
He was 19 at the time, she was 22.
Mr Kunoth initially denied the more serious aspects of his attack. He did not enter a guilty plea to manslaughter until after he was ordered to stand trial for murder, following a committal hearing last October.
Taking into account the plea, Chief Justice Trevor Riley sentenced him to gaol for nine years and six months, with a non-parole period of seven years.
The Chief Justice noted that by his guilty plea Mr Kunoth had accepted responsibility for his conduct. He regarded him as “not without prospects for rehabilitation” given his young age.
The court had heard that Mr Kunoth had started drinking at age 15 as well as smoking marijuana. He fathered his first child at age 16 and by the time of the fatal assault on his second wife, had two children with her.
At about age 15 he lost his twin brother to illness and about two years later lost an older brother to suicide.
As a youth he had witnessed alcohol fuelled violence between members of his extended family. There were also ongoing family feuds, some of which was over royalty payments and led to a series of violent altercations.
He had never worked although he had completed a pre-vocational course shortly before the fatal attack on his wife and had his name on a jobs waiting list. Also shortly before, as a result of breaching the conditions of a suspended sentence, he had been ordered into rehabilitation at DASA.  He was evicted because he consumed marijuana.

– Kieran Finnane



  1. Why is this manslaughter? I would have thought that killing someone by hitting them on the head with a 2kg block of concrete would be classed as murder. Once again, someone causes loss of life and brings terrible tragedy to someone’s family and friends and gets off with a meager seven years non-parole. What a joke.

  2. Hi Daniel, I took an interest in this issue as a Legal Studies teacher at Centralian College. The problem is to get a murder conviction the DPP has to prove “intent”, the mens rea. Can be very difficult, especially if all the witnesses are drunk and/or related and “forget” their evidence at trial. DPP often offers manslaughter charge for a guilty plea, therefore no trial.
    Many people including judges have been critical of this over the years, too many killings get downgraded to manslaughter and lighter sentences. Yet I have seen murder trials in the Alice become a shambles and finish in an acquittal with no jail time apart from that spent in remand.
    A dilemma for DPP in the Alice, no easy solution, they assess case by case and make a judgement about what they think they can prove to a jury.

  3. Once again the message to Aboriginal women and girls is that your life is not worth much.
    Although they suffer all of the disadvantages, all of the social and spiritual problems of their tormentors, of the ones who physically destroy them, their rights as Australian citizens, their human rights as defined by the United Nations are routinely ignored.
    Once again there will be no outcry from the radicals, from the protestors, from the human rights lobby. The carnage will continue until it is completely and unconditionally condemned by everybody on all sides of politics and all sides of the public debate.
    Her life was worth as much as that of any of us. No more excuses, STOP THE VIOLENCE!

  4. A rule of law only works when the rules are enforced with very little tolerance.
    The primary role of penalties in law are to act as a “deterrent”, not a welcome to the poor bugger me club.
    How many excuses were made for this bloke before the final horror?
    Those responsible for those excuses are in some ways responsible for the final outcome!
    I’m with you, Dave Price, what a disgrace, a living shame for the entire community!

  5. When is enough enough? The excuses for violence and repeated violence is never ending. The man in question was adult enough to take a wife (not just one but two) and father children, and adult enough to make decisions and choices about grog and gunga but clearly not adult enough to take responsibility for his behaviour (history of violence) and face acceptable consequesnces not a slap on the wrist.
    Not only has he brutally killed a young woman and denying her of her basic human right to life but has also denied two young children the right to grow up with their mother.


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