Recruited as a child soldier at age 12 and later tortured by his enemies before fleeing by boat to Australia, Sri Lankan Ganeshamoorthy Thiyagarajah is now facing years behind bars for a “brutal” killing in Adelaide.
Thiyagarajah was found guilty recently of the murder in March 2017 of his housemate Mohammed Mansoor at their Penfield Gardens home.
In sentencing submissions in the Supreme Court on Monday, prosecutor Patrick Dawes said Mr Mansoor was “brutally and intentionally” killed by someone who was supposed to be his friend.
“He died without dignity in the doorway of his home, far away from his family,” Mr Dawes said.
Thiyagarajah, who pleaded not guilty to murder, tried to falsify the crime scene to make it look like others were involved and lied about Mr Mansoor trying to recruit him to join the terror group Islamic State.
The trial judge also rejected the defence argument that the 44-year-old had been provoked by comments the dead man made about his wife.
Mr Mansoor suffered more than 40 separate injuries including a large gaping wound to the neck which severed his carotid artery.
A victim impact statement read to the court on Monday said his family would continue to hurt until they had all “left the earth”.
They said Mr Mansoor’s children had lost their guardian, a loving soul and carer as they called for the maximum possible sentence for his killer.
The family also questioned what sin or injustice he could have done to warrant the taking of his life.
“What did he do to you for you to take his life away,” Thiyagarajah was asked.
In defence submissions, Bill Boucaut told the court his client’s background was “truly horrendous”.
He said Thiyagarajah had witnessed rioting and murders in the streets of his homeland and had been recruited as a child soldier when he was just 12.
Thiyagarajah had also allegedly been captured and tortured for several months before finally making his way to Christmas Island by boat.
But Mr Boucaut said his application for refugee status had been rejected and he faced the prospect of being deported once he had served his jail sentence
He told the court Thiyagarajah was also being kept in protective custody to avoid assaults in jail because he had tried to implicate others in his crime.
He said his client had a “deep sense of sorrow” over what he had done and was also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder related to his earlier experiences.
Mr Dawes told the court that Thiyagarajah was considered an unlawful non-citizen and his last temporary protection visa had expired in September 2015.
As such, he would be taken into immigration detention once his non-parole period had been completed.
Thiyagarajah will be sentenced later this month.