A court has rejected an argument that a Wellington man who stabbed his wife to death should get a shorter period until he becomes eligible for parole because his original plan had been to "deface", not kill her.
The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal from Najeeb Dawood, 53.
Dawood, an Iraqi refugee, pleaded guilty to murdering his wife Eman Jani Hurmiz, 41, at their home in Strathmore, Wellington, on September 2, 2011.
He also pleaded guilty to the aggravated wounding of the couple's eldest daughter who had tried to break into the shed where her father was stabbing her mother.
Dawood was sentenced in February to serve at least 17 years of a life imprisonment term. He appealed against the 17-year minimum.
The degree of brutality and callousness of the killing and the premeditation involved were factors that qualified Dawood for the 17-year minimum unless it was manifestly unjust.
The three Court of Appeal judges said the murder was the culmination of years of threats and violence.
Delivering the decision of the court, Justice Lowell Goddard said there was evidence Dawood had depression. He imagined his wife was being unfaithful.
The allowance the sentencing judge had made for Dawood's depression, cultural dislocation, and a disputed diagnosis of abnormal jealousy, was balanced against Dawood failing to take the opportunities open to him, and that there was no provocation and no sudden loss of control.
The allowance the judge gave was clearly open to him, the Court of Appeal said.
Even if the original intention had been to deface his wife - as Dawood had said in a letter to his son - by maiming and disfiguring her that did not change the amount of planning he did to achieve his end.
The court was told that Dawood had recorded his wife's telephone conversations and saved them to a computer kept in a small shed that he used as an office. On the computer he wrote a letter to his son explaining his reasons for "defacing" Ms Hurmiz.
He had slung a rope over a piece of timber in the ceiling of the shed, intending to kill himself after he had disfigured her.
He lured Ms Hurmiz to the shed and tried to tape her hands to a chair. He played music he had ready for the purpose. She suffered 55 knife wounds to her face, neck, chest, back, arms and hands.
The couple's two eldest children had seen part of the attack and Ms Hurmiz begged her husband not to let them see what he was doing, so he pushed her to the ground where he finished her off.
He then stood on her body to reach the rope to hang himself. Neighbours hearing the screams broke down the shed's door and saved him but Ms Hurmiz was beyond help.
Ms Hurmiz and their four children came to New Zealand as refugees in September 2008. Dawood arrived in January 2010 and was said to have not settled well in New Zealand.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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