Aussie Mum May Appeal Sentence for Killing Balinese Policeman

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Legian Beach

In case you missed the headlines: Sara Connor has been sentenced to four years in prison, while her boyfriend, David Taylor, was handed a six year sentence for killing Balinese police officer Wayan Sudarsa.

The Byron Bay mother of two was found guilty of fatal assault in company. She has already been behind bars for seven months and will be credited for the time served.

And while there are suggestions Ms Connor may appeal the decision, Indonesian legal experts say it is likely the prosecution will launch an appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence, as it is standard practice in Indonesia to appeal sentences that are less than two-thirds of what was requested.

Prosecutors have a week to decide whether or not they will file an appeal.

Aggravating factors

In handing down the penalty, the court took into account a number of aggravating factors, including the fact Ms Connor cut-up the police officer’s identity cards. The judges rejected the woman’s claim she did this to protect the officer from identity theft, finding the act was a clear indication she was trying to destroy evidence.

The judges also rejected Connor’s claim that she sat the victim’s stomach to separate him from her boyfriend David Taylor, finding instead that she was attempting to stop the officer from retaliating.

However, the judges did take into account that Ms Connor has two children and is separated from their father.

The killing of a policeman

Mr Sudarsa, a police officer for 35 years, was found beaten to death on Legian beach in August last year. He had suffered 42 wounds to his body, and the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma.

Sarah Connor and David Taylor were arrested over the killing, which occurred after a fight broke out when the couple accused the officer of stealing Ms Connor’s handbag.

Ms Connor claimed that she tried to stop the fight, then left the men as she searched for her handbag. She says her boyfriend later told her that the victim had ‘passed out’, and that for the next two days, the couple enjoyed their holiday oblivious to the fact police were looking for them.

The pair eventually handed themselves into the Australian consulate, but not before burning the clothes they were wearing on the night of the incident.

Prosecutors originally asked for both Connor and Taylor to serve eight years behind bars, despite the fact each of them testified that Taylor acted alone.

Possible appeal

Ms Connor is devastated by the decision, but perhaps not as devastated as the deceased’s family.

Ms Connor’s family and friends continue to protest her innocence. They are concerned for her deteriorating mental state caused by the imprisonment and separation from her children.

And while her legal team has foreshadowed the possibility of an appeal, Indonesian legal experts suggest this may be risky as penalties are often increased in the higher courts.

For instance, four of the Bali nine had their life sentences overturned and death sentences imposed when they appealed their sentences.

Like the prosecution, Connor also has one week to file an appeal.

It is understood Mr Taylor will not appeal his sentence.

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Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

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