By Alesha Capone
A mother who deliberately drove into a Wyndham Vale lake, killing three of her children, has had her original sentence reduced for a second time.
Akon Guode drove into the lake, located on Manor Lakes Boulevard, on April 8, 2015, killing her four-year-old twins Hangar and Madit and 16-month-old son Bol. Guode’s five-year-old daughter survived.
A man who lived near the lake swam into the water and managed to break a rear window of the car, free Bol from his baby-seat and take him out of the lake. However, Bol was later pronounced dead after arriving at hospital.
In 2017, the Supreme Court sentenced Guode to 26.5 years jail with a non-parole period of 20 years, after she pleaded guilty to one charge of infanticide, two charges of murder and one charge of attempted murder.
The court heard that Guode, a refugee, had suffered severe psychological trauma and symptoms of depression after experiencing the civil war in South Sudan, including watching the murder of her husband and being raped until she fell unconscious.
In 2018, the Court of Appeal re-sentenced Guode to 18 years in prison with a non-parole period of 14 years.
But this decision was appealed by the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions, and the case was heard at the High Court in March this year. The High Court ordered Guode to return to the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal re-heard the matter on September 25, and issued its decision last Wednesday, September 30.
The same three Court of Appeal judges, who presided over the 2018 case, again re-sentenced Guode to 18 years in prison with a non-parole period of 14 years.
In reaching the decision, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, and Justices David Beach and Phillip Priest, said that – in giving “adequate weight” to Guode’s mental condition and other factors – the case “required significantly more lenient sentences” than those which the judge applied in the 2017 case.
They also said the 2017 sentence imposed upon Guode “did not contain any element of mercy”.
The judges said that in all likelihood, Guode would be deported from Australia following her release from prison, which “amounts to a significant additional punishment”.
Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for assistance with depression.