Refugee felt 'possessed by the Devil'

06:21, Sep 20 2012
Zakariye Mohammed Hussein
ARMED: A picture of Zakariye Mohammed Hussein taken by a bystander from inside his car mid-rampage.

A Somali refugee has been jailed for six-and-a-half years for a bloody rampage across Christchurch on a day when he felt he was "possessed by the Devil".

Zakariye Mohamed Hussein, 27, was told at his Christchurch District Court sentencing by Judge David Saunders: "It is clear that those embroiled in this have suffered not only physical but emotional harm."

The judge commended the courageous actions of a member of public who held Hussein at bay until the police subdued him.

Pepper spray and a Taser did not stop Hussein, and he was finally shot.

Hussein's defence counsel, Allister Davis, apologised to everyone involved, on behalf of Hussein and his family, and particularly to the two people he wounded.

"He is aware of the effects of his behaviour on this day has had on all of the victims. He is filled with remorse. He doesn't know what has caused this. He has explained to clinicians he felt he was possessed by the Devil."


Davis urged the judge to make an order for reparation payments totalling $1073 for a smashed school door, and the losses of a man caught up in the incident and wounded.

Davis said: "Both of these amounts can be paid, and will be paid on his behalf by his family."

He said Hussein now had no use of the arm where he was shot by the police to end the incident in March. There was no criticism of the police.

"He has accepted that his behaviour on the day warranted exactly what happened."

The incident happened when Hussein had been off his medication for a considerable time and he had spent the night living rough in the bushes at Redwood School.

He was horrified by the physical and emotional damage he had inflicted on people, but he was usually quietly spoken, shy, reserved, polite and did not want to get into any difficulties, Davis said.

Hussein had admitted charges of unlawful possession of a weapon, a knife in Redwood Primary School and Hoon Hay Road, kidnapping a council worker and a woman, wounding the council worker with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and injuring the woman with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He also admitted charges of smashing a glass door at the school and threatening a man with intent to frighten him.
Judge Saunders said Hussein had stayed at the school overnight and threatened the caretaker.

He then kidnapped a woman at knifepoint in her car, cutting her on the arm as he forced her to drive across the city to Hoon Hay.

He then forced another driver to drive him, and chased the driver when he crashed the car into a wall, stabbing him several times and causing him life-threatening injuries.

He said actions such as Hussein's had the effect of a destroying trust within communities.

Judge Saunders imposed concurrent jail sentences totalling six years six months with a minimum non-parole term of three years, three months.

The sentence was reduced for Hussein's guilty pleas, his depressive illness, his expressions of remorse, and his personal circumstances.

The court was told that Hussein and his family left Somalia for a refugee camp when the civil war broke out. He had seen his uncle shot dead and left on the family's front door step, and he had seen women being violated, and people being shot.

Davis said Hussein would take any courses and education available to him during his lengthy prison term, and would hopefully get the help he needed.

Hussein is now under treatment and taking the appropriate medication.

Hussein was given a first-strike warning under the government's three-strikes system that imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent offenders.

The Press