By KIERAN FINNANE
UPDATED, see at bottom.
The four men who pleaded guilty to the reckless manslaughter of J. Pollard on 18 February 2013 have each been sentenced to 16 years in gaol.
Kumunjayi Pollard died a “long, brutal, torturous” death and was subjected to humiliation and degradation in “a sadistic manner”, said Justice Stephen Southwood in the Alice Springs Supreme Court today.
Kumunjayi’s pleas for help were not only ignored – his mob of assailants clapped and cheered while he was beaten to death. His body was later dumped in a gully by the North Stuart Highway and the car used was burned by the roadside (pictured).
The four men may not be responsible for all of Kumunjayi Pollard’s injuries but that “matters little”, said Justice Southwood. They knew there was a substantial risk of death resulting from their violence: that risk did not materialise in a moment, they promoted it from start to finish.
While all four men are “equally culpable”, the youngest, Kasman Andy, aged 24 year at the time, now 26, and with no prior convictions for violence, has a non-parole period of eight years.
The other three – Christopher Daniel, Mervyn Wilson and Lawrence Collin – were each described by Justice Southwood as “dangerous” by virtue of their criminal histories. Their non-parole periods were fixed at 10 years.
Daniel, now 31 years, has four prior convictions for violence and two for going armed with an offensive weapon. The day after the manslaughter he assaulted his own mother, for which he has been sentenced to ten months in the magistrates court. It will be served concurrently with the manslaughter penalty.
Wilson, aged 43 years and a chronic alcoholic, has seven prior convictions for violence, two for serious assault, one for assault on a police officer. Most of his violence has been against his current wife, Rosemary James, who also took part in the mob attack on Kumunjayi Pollard. Wilson’s most recent assault against James occurred later on the same night as Kumunjayi died.
Collin, 39 years, has nine prior convictions for violence.
Justice Southwood found that there was “not a lot by way of mitigation” for the four. He accepted the submission by the Crown that they showed little contrition or acceptance of responsibility and each had sought to minimise their role in the violence.
He found the attack on Kumunjayi Pollard was entirely unprovoked, with the offenders either unprepared or incapable of explaining why they had inflicted such a cruel end on their victim. Some of them may have been under the “misapprehension” that he was linked to an earlier death at Abbott’s Camp but they were “completely mistaken” – he was in prison at the time.
Kumunjayi Pollard’s relatives also rejected any such explanation: he was not responsible for that trouble, those men had no reason to blame him, they said in their jointly written Victim Impact Statement. What happened was “really wrong”.
“The true story needs to be heard by everyone,” they said, “so that it stops any more. We are upset all the time. It never finishes.”
Silas Raggett, who has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on Kumunjayi Pollard, will be sentenced this afternoon.
UPDATE, Friday, 20 March 2015, 4.44pm:
Silas Raggett was sentenced this afternoon to 18 months, with no parole, for his part in the assault on J. Pollard. He drove the car, with the other four men on board, to Ilparpa Camp where they chased, beat and abducted Kumunjayi Pollard. Raggett punched the victim twice in the face. Back at Charles Creek, however, he joined his then partner and walked away.
He was 22 years old at the time. He has already served most of the sentence and will be released towards the end of May. Some of the time he has spent in gaol since his arrest for this matter has been served for another violent offence committed on 13 February 2013 – five days earlier. He has three further prior convictions for violence.
16 years for inflicting ‘torturous’ death on J. Pollard
By KIERAN FINNANE