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Canberra's Maged Al-Harazi jailed for 30 years for stabbing murder of wife Sabah Al-Mdwali

A Canberra husband who stabbed his wife to death after an argument as she breastfed their baby son has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars for the "ferocious, sustained and extensive" attack.

Maged Mohommed Ahmed Al-Harazi, 36, murdered mother-of-three Sabah Al-Mdwali, 28, after a lengthy argument in the bedroom of their Gordon home in the early hours of March 17 in 2015.

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Murder victim's family respond to sentencing of her killer, Magreb Al-Harazi

Salah Al-Mdwali reads a statement from the family after the sentencing of his sister, Sabah Al-Mdwali's murderer, Maged Al-Harazi, in the ACT Supreme Court.

Justice Richard Refshauge jailed Al-Harazi for a minimum of 21 years for the "extreme example of family violence".

Al-Harazi muttered in Arabic to Ms Al-Mdwali's family members in a tense exchange as he was led away from the room of the ACT Supreme Court.

Speaking outside court, Ms Al-Mdwali's brother Salah Al-Mdwali said no sentence would bring her back, and no family should have to sit in court and listen to evidence of how their loved one was murdered.

"We will never be able to forgive this man for the horrible and shameful acts he has committed.


"He stole from Sabah everything she ever had at the tender age of just 28, and at the same time her murdered her, he stole everything she was ever going to have.

He said Sabah was "a beautiful person" who had "such a warmth". She was a caring woman and mother who loved her children. 

"We mourn the loss of Sabah day and night. We will always cherish our loving memories of Sabah and our time together. Mr Al-Harazi will never steal those memories from us."

A jury found Al-Harazi guilty of murder after a dramatic five-week trial and less than five hours of deliberations in April.

The couple moved to Australia after their arranged marriage in Yemen in 2005.

But their relationship was volatile and they often argued about where they would live; Al-Harazi was unhappy and wanted to return to Yemen while his wife wanted to stay close to her family in Canberra.

The day of the murder, Al-Harazi had lost work and the pair had signed a 12-month agreement for their Gordon home.

Neighbours heard a loud argument from the couple's home that broke out about 9pm and raged for five hours.

Justice Refshauge found Ms Al-Mdwali had either been in the process of breastfeeding or had only just finished nursing their baby when her husband began to stab her.

Bloodstains were found on the infant's sleeping bag.

He said, either way, the attack on her at that time when she was vulnerable was serious and "invokes reasonable revulsion".

Al-Harazi had stabbed his wife about 20 times before she had rolled over and he knifed her in the back about 30 more times as she lay motionless. 

"The continued stabbing when she was alive is a serious matter because of the pain and terror it would have cause Ms Al-Mdwali until she lost consciousness and, ultimately, her life," Justice Refshauge said.

"The attack was ferocious, sustained and extensive."

The couple's two older children were also inside the house at the time; his daughter saw him with a knife and blood on his shirt. Al-Harazi crafted a story, telling them their uncle and grandfather had killed their mother.

He had driven to Tuggeranong police station with the children and told them his wife's father and brother were responsible for her killing. 

The two men were arrested in the hours after her death, but later released without charge as police instead turned their investigation to her husband.

Justice Refshauge said Ms Al-Mdwali was clearly vulnerable around the time given she was breastfeeding, partially clothed and in her own bedroom and bed.

He found Al-Harazi intended to kill his wife as he stabbed her, but found the attack was not premeditated.

At sentencing, Al-Harazi had said Allah told him in a prophecy his wife had been unfaithful and deserved punishment.

He'd declared himself a "hero" and said Allah said he would avenge what had happened to him.

Justice Refshauge said the "strange evidence" showed a lack of remorse and insight. 

He was not satisfied Al-Harazi suffered a serious psychotic illness, but found he had mental impairments that affected his culpability for the murder to a small degree.

But he said the seriousness of the offence and its aggravating features warranted a significant sentence.

Justice Refshauge grew emotional as he spoke of the pain and loss suffered by Ms Al-Mdwali's family, particularly her children, who had been "desolated" by the loss of a precious daughter, sister and mother.

He said it was clear Ms Al-Mdwali was a beloved daughter from a loving family and hoped their pain would soften over time, acknowledging no sentence would restore her to them. 

Al-Harazi will be eligible for release in March 2036.