A Bangladeshi national who stabbed her Melbourne homestay host in an effort to “become a martyr” has been jailed for 42 years.
In a separate case, a radicalised Sydney student who repeatedly stabbed a stranger with a hunting knife in a “violent, ferocious and inhumane” terrorist act has been jailed for at least 27 years.
In the Melbourne case, Momena Shoma, 26, admitted to engaging in a terrorist act when she stabbed Roger Singaravelu as he napped with his five-year-old daughter at Mill Park on 9 February 2018. She is the first woman to be sentenced for directly carrying out a terrorist attack in Australia.
Crying “Allahu akbar” (God is great), Shoma plunged the knife with such force it embedded into Singaravelu’s neck and the knife tip snapped off.
On Wednesday Justice Lesley Ann Taylor jailed Shoma for 42 years with a minimum of 31-and-a-half years, calling the young woman an “insignificant criminal” with “repugnant logic”.
Dressed in a black niqab showing only her eyes, Shoma did not stand for Taylor.
“Your actions sent waves of horror through the Australian community, but they do not make you a martyr … they make you a criminal,” Taylor told the Victorian supreme court.
Taylor said Shoma’s “sole purpose” of entering Australia was to commit a terrorist attack, with her enrolment to study a masters of linguistics at La Trobe University a ruse.
Shoma spent just eight days in Australia before the attack and told police she had practised by stabbing a pillow while staying with a different family.
She planned the attack by purchasing night vision goggles, googling “how can you tell if someone is in deep sleep?” twice and singled out Singaravelu as her victim because he was vulnerable.
Taylor said Shoma had shown no remorse.
“Indeed the only regret you have uttered is you did not succeed … that sentence is despicable,” she said.
Her victim and his family, “generous enough to open their home to a stranger, now suffers physically, emotionally and financially”, Taylor said.
Singaravelu previously told the court he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder since the attack, took a cocktail of medication and used alcohol to try to forget what happened to him.
“I relive the attack, the look on her face and the blood splattered on the wall,” Singaravelu said in his victim impact statement.
His daughter also suffered from PTSD, flashbacks and nightmares.
Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Singaravelu said he was blessed to have survived the attack.
“I should be in a wooden box or in a wheelchair,” he told reporters.
He implored the Australian government to better vet student visa applications.
‘Motivated by depraved ideology’
In the Sydney case, Ihsas Khan, 25, was sentenced to at least 27 years. He was found guilty in May of engaging in a terrorist act involving stabbing Wayne Greenhalgh, 57, multiple times with the intention of killing him on 10 September 2016 at Minto.
The New South Wales supreme court jury rejected Khan’s case that he was suffering from a mental illness at the time and that a jinn, or supernatural being, instructed him to kill someone.
On Wednesday Justice Geoffrey Bellew jailed Khan for 36 years, setting a non-parole period of 27 years, noting Greenhalgh was clearly “acutely traumatised” by the stabbing.
He was satisfied the original intention of Khan, who described himself as “an unskilled assassin”, was to carry out the crime on the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack in New York to gain international recognition.
Supporters of Greenhalgh clapped and cheered as the judge read out the sentence.
Outside court the smiling victim said: “I’m glad he got what he bloody well deserves.
“He’s not sorry for what he did,” Greenhalgh told reporters. “I am just glad he didn’t beat me in the end.”
Khan had testified that he purchased the knife in February 2016 and was planning to use it to kill Jews at Sydney University, where he was studying pharmacy, the judge said.
After Greenhalgh was repeatedly stabbed, he took refuge in a nearby hairdressing salon, bleeding heavily.
Khan touched some of the blood on the driveway, saying “what a beautiful sight” and later told police: “There was blood absolutely everywhere. Beautiful sight. Beau-ti-ful.”
When attacking his victim, Khan was heard to shout “Allahu akbar”.
The judge found Khan had targeted Greenhalgh, whom he had seen in the neighbourhood, because he saw him wearing a T-shirt bearing an image “which would objectively be viewed as innocuous” but which was at odds with his extremist views.
It bore a stars and stripes logo accompanied by the words “Home of the free, because of the brave”.
“Those words were printed over a background of a well-known image depicting military personnel raising the flag of the United States of America following the victory in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II,” the judge said.
Khan did not set out just to harm his victim but “was on a mission to kill him”.
But for the intervention of a neighbour, it was highly likely he would have achieved his stated aim, Bellew said.
“In stabbing Mr Greengalgh, the offender was motivated by an entrenched, immoral and depraved ideology which sought to justify attacking and killing innocent persons in the name of a religious and/or ideological cause.”