May 31 2016 – 2:48PM
The killer of Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber – a Canberra punk rocker affectionately known as the Ginger Ninja – will be eligible for release from prison in less than four years.
The friendship between Mr Sofer-Schreiber and his former housemate, Christopher David Navin, ended tragically when Navin killed him on Boxing Day 2013.
Navin inflicted 73 stab wounds during an attack at Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s Lyneham home that lasted “tens-of-minutes”, killing him with a fatal stab to the neck.
He admitted causing Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death, but was acquitted of murder last year, a jury instead finding him guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
The finding meant Navin had suffered from an “abnormality of mind” that day, which substantially impaired his mental responsibility for Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death.
Navin, 29, was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 6 years. With time already served he will be eligible for release in February 2020.
The maximum sentence Justice John Burns could have imposed was 20 years.
Navin’s moral culpability was diminished because of his mental illness. Navin had been earlier diagnosed with schizophrenia, though he had stopped taking his medication some weeks before Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s death.
His moral culpability was diminished, but Justice Burns accepted that Navin’s actions were premeditated and that he intended to kill his friend, knowing it was wrong.
“Were it not for mental illness you undoubtedly would have been convicted of murder.”
But the sentence has disappointed Mr Sofer-Schreiber’s family and friends, and his cousin Catherine McDonald said its length fell short of their expectations.
“Nic was a harmless, kind and gentle person who would not have been able to defend himself when Chris Navin entered his home,” she said outside court.
“However, it’s Nic’s life more than his death that we hope people will remember and we will endeavour to keep the memory of Nic alive and continue to support Nic’s love of music through the annual Gingerfest Music Festival.”
During the trial, Navin said he had killed the punk rock fan in a preemptive strike as he believed Mr Sofer-Schreiber had been involved in his grandfather’s death and had hired a hitman to kill more members of his family.
The court heard how after he killed Mr Sofer-Schreiber, Navin drove to a family property near Grafton where he burnt evidence, including two knives he later threw in a dam.
The defence argued Navin was not guilty by way of mental impairment as he had been suffering from a severe psychosis at the time. But the jury rejected this argument, instead finding him guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
The Crown had argued Navin had been socially rejected by Mr Sofer-Schreiber and was motivated by anger and revenge, but Justice Burns rejected this in sentencing.
Justice Burns said Navin would have to be supervised for the rest of his life, to ensure he continued taking his medicine and to monitor any deterioration in his mental health.
This was in part a reason for the lengthy parole period he had imposed.
Source : The Canberra Times