In 2015, Sudanese refugee Akon Guode made national headlines when she drove her Toyota SUV into Melbourne’s Wyndham Vale lake. Inside the car were four of her small children. Three of them died.
Now, the Victorian Supreme Court has reduced her sentence from 26 years with a minimum of 20, to 18 with a minimum term of 14, with the consideration of the time she’s already served.
Guode plead guilty to murdering her four-year-old twins Hangar and Madit and her 16-month-old son Bol, and attempted murder of 5-year-old Alual, but appealed the sentence she was given in 2017.
Although Guode’s history was widely reported at the time, and was considered in the original sentencing, The Court of Appeal has now found the term was “manifestly excessive.”
“Had adequate weight been given to the applicant’s mental condition and other factors in mitigation, we consider that significantly more lenient sentences would have been imposed,” SBS reports the Court says in its decision.
In reducing the sentence, the justices note the gravity of the crimes, but say that Guode’s “situation is pitiable”.
BREAKING: A woman who killed 3 of her children and almost a fourth, when she deliberately drove into a lake in Wyndham Vale..has had her sentence REDUCED on appeal by 8.5 years. But with time already served – Akon Guode could be free in 11 years. @tennewsmelb 5PM pic.twitter.com/UFAv1UqdQX
— Candice Wyatt (@CandiceWyatt10) August 16, 2018
The appeal decision also states that Guode’s “capacity to make calm and rational decisions was severely compromised by a mental condition which was not of her own making”.
During the original trial, defence counsel Marcus Dempsey asserted Guode’s case was unique because of her traumatic background and the “unspeakable horror” of her life in Sudan.