Two men who violently murdered a service station attendant in Queanbeyan in 2017 as teenagers have had years slashed from their prison sentences after a successful appeal.
The pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were 16 and 15 when they killed Pakistani national Zeeshan Akbar during a criminal rampage in the southern NSW town.
The elder of the two, known as DM, stabbed Mr Akbar from behind, and wrote IS on the wall using the victim’s blood as he lay bleeding out on the floor of the Caltex station.
When arrested, DM called out “Allah Akbar. Allah Akbar. I’m going to cut your heads off. There is only one God”, suggested Sydney was going to be blown up and he was going to behead every police officer.
The pair pleaded guilty to various offences including murder, robbery, carjacking and wounding with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
In May 2020, DM was sentenced by NSW Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Bellew to 35 years and six months in prison with a non-parole period of 27 years and six months. The judge found he came from a troubled home, had schizophrenia and had poor prospects of rehabilitation.
The younger of the pair, referred to as DS, did not play an active role in the murder. The judge found he was remorseful and had good prospects of rehabilitation, imposing a sentence of 18 years and four months with a non-parole period of 13 years and nine months.
In ordering this jail time, Justice Bellew took into account an earlier unprovoked assault with an alcohol bottle, a break and enter that included threats with a wheel brace, and the later stabbing of a man when the teenagers carjacked his vehicle and drove off from the service station.
On Wednesday, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal reduced the offenders’ sentences, after finding that DM’s jail time was “manifestly excessive”.
“A consideration of the combined effect of DM’s dysfunctional background and schizophrenia along with such weight as could be given to his age, and even allowing for his poor prospects of rehabilitation, warrant the conclusion that the sentence was manifestly excessive,” the judges wrote.
The appeals court sentenced DM to a maximum of 27 years in prison with a non-parole period of 20 years and seven months. He will be eligible to walk free on November 7, 2037.
DS’s sentence was also affected by error, said the appeal judges, because Justice Bellew had added jail time based on the actions of the elder offender and should have allowed for a shorter non-parole period because of the prospects of rehabilitation.
DS will now spend a maximum of 14 years and six months in jail with a non-parole period of 10 years. He will be eligible to walk free on April 6, 2027.