A former Sudanese child soldier whose memories of a traumatic childhood triggered a vicious bashing of a Canberra man has beensentenced to three months’ weekend detention.
Luay Shaor, 30, suffered a traumatic childhood in Africa, which saw him beaten by his family and conscripted into the Sudanese army as a young teenager. Shaor eventually fled Sudan, saying he escaped the army and ran for four days barefoot through the desert to the Egyptian border to escape a death sentence hanging over his head.
That particular part of his story was rejected by the court, after prosecutor Anthony Williamson produced immigration records showing he had left from the airport in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. Mr Williamson described Shaor’s story of his childhood as ‘‘incredible’’, and asked the court to reject it as a lie.
But the court accepted that Shaor had suffered childhood trauma, including serving as a soldier and having rocks thrown at him during beatings at the hands of his family.
The court found the painful memories of those experiences followed him when he came to Australia as an 18-year-old, suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
That illness surfaced in Canberra late last year, when a man aged in his 60s was throwing rocks at Shaor in an attempt to provoke him.
That triggered what Magistrate Bernadette Boss described as a ‘‘vicious and intense attack’’, partly caused by the PTSD he developed when he was young. Shaor took a metal bar and repeatedly hit the man in the head. The man lost consciousness, but Shaor continued the attack. The victim was left with serious injuries, and was hospitalised for two weeks, requiring multiple surgeries.
The attack left lasting injuries and caused psychological harm to the victim’s daughter and grandchildren, the ACT Magistrates Court heard on Thursday. Shaor’s defence team produced a mental health report showing he suffered from PTSD.
The 30-year-old had no criminal history, had a full-time job, a family and was praised as a man of good character in references.
Dr Boss accepted that Shaor’s chronic PTSD was ‘‘in operation’’ at the time of the bashing.
But she told Shaor his reaction to the incitement ‘‘was so far in excess of anything that can be attributed to your illness’’.
Shaor was sentenced to six months’ jail, three months of which would be served through weekend detention, and the other three suspended on the condition he enter into a three-year good behaviour order.
Dr Boss praised Shaor’s positive contribution to the local Sudanese and Canberra community since he came to Australia.