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Short Sentences for African Refugees Who Hacked Man’s Head with Machetes

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JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Two refugees from Somalia have received short sentences for splitting a man’s skull and mutilating his hand in a machete attack in Melbourne, Australia.

Abdirizak Mohamed Scek, 25, and Said Abdirahman, 28, gave “no explanation” for their savage attack on Nathan Brett, who was left with “a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, and his finger hanging by a thread”, according to the Daily Mail.

The court heard Brett was set upon by a group of African men armed with machetes while walking through a North Melbourne park after a party, shortly after having discovered a friend with a machete wound nearby and calling an ambulance for him.

The Australian fled from his attackers but was pursued all the way to the door of a friend’s house, where he was given shelter.

Despite the ‘no more soft sentences’ headline in the Daily Mail report on the case — which suggested the migrants were given “more than ten years” by a “tough new female judge” — the prison terms handed down by the County Court of Victoria’s Judge Sarah Dawes were actually fairly short.

Abdirahman was given five-and-a-half years, with the possibility of parole after serving three-and-a-half, and Scek was given four years and nine months, with the possibility of parole after serving two years and nine months.

Taken individually, the terms are mere fractions of the “more than ten years” the Daily Mail managed to suggest by combining two separate sentences and glossing over the fact that they will likely not be served in full.

Such reporting practices are also common in the British press, which often appears to suggest members of child grooming gangs and other criminal enterprises will serve fantastically long sentences behind bars by adding multiple individual terms together and failing to account for the fact that release on licence is typically automatic halfway through a determinate sentence.

Nevertheless, the refugees’ supporters were outraged by the sentences given to their compatriots in Australia, swearing and disrupting the courtroom when they were handed down.

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