Killer Shahram Hejabian sentenced to 21 years after botched murder-suicide attempt

A refugee suffering from post traumatic stress disorder who murdered his girlfriend before attempting to take his own life has been sentenced to 21 years in jail.
Nanjing Night Net

Shahram Hejabian, 40, choked and used a hammer-like instrument to bash Nouha Salame before he scrawled a suicide note on his bedroom wall and took an overdose of prescription drugs inside his western Sydney home in April 2014.

Hejabian pleaded not guilty to murder, with the question for the jury being whether he was substantially impaired at the time of the killing to warrant a reduction in the charge to manslaughter.

The trial heard that Hejabian was born in Iran and had suffered discrimination, abuse and violence because of his Bahá’í faith. He fled to Turkey, before he arrived in Australia in 2001 after being accepted as a refugee.

He had been diagnosed with long-standing post traumatic stress and depression, which had its origin in his experience of persecution in Iran and had been enhanced by having to care for his wife who was hospitalised for mental illness.

Forensic psychiatrists gave evidence that Hejabian was suffering from an abnormality of mind at the time of the killing, but it was left to the jury whether this amounted to impairment to lessen his criminal culpability.

The jury delivered a murder verdict after about two hours of deliberations.

In his sentencing remarks in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Peter Hidden said that Hejabian had become emotionally dependent on Ms Salame. As the Crown put it, he “saw her as his saviour in a future which otherwise appeared void of hope”.

The trial heard that some months before the murder Hejabian had told Ms Salame that if she ever left him he would kill her and himself, but she did not take the comments seriously.

Ms Salame’s eldest daughter, Sarah Salame, gave evidence that his behaviour was obsessive, and described how Hejabian would call her mother multiple times on her mobile and show up at her home unannounced.

After murdering Ms Salame, Hejabian scrawled in a felt pen what would was intended to be a suicide note on the bedroom wall of his Doonside home.

In the note, he complained about his treatment in Australia and said Ms Salame had broken his heart and shown him no mercy.

“She kept changing her words. She would say ‘I love you’ but she did not. She used me in every way,” the note, written in Persian, said.

Hejabian was found barely conscious in the room and has been left with enduring mobility problems from the botched suicide attempt.

Justice Hidden said it was most likely on the jury’s application of community standards that the defence case failed. He found, however, that Hejabian’s moral culpability was reduced.

“I am satisfied that the accused had lost self-control at the time he killed the deceased and that his mental illness was a significant factor contributing to his conduct,” Justice Hidden said.

“This was an uncharacteristic episode of serious violence, there being no evidence of any other violence on his part during the relationship.”

Hejabian, who did not appear to react when the sentence was read out, was given a maximum of 21 years imprisonment. He will serve at least 15 years and nine months behind bars.

Backdated to the time he was first taken into custody, he will be eligible for parole in 2030.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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