Man who disembowelled friend while 'out of his head on drugs' loses sentence appeal

Lawrence Mubango (33) was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with 18 months suspended for a knife attack on his two friends in May 2018
Man who disembowelled friend while 'out of his head on drugs' loses sentence appeal

Peter Doyle

A man who was "out of his head on drugs" when he disembowelled a friend in a "paranoid" knife attack has failed in an appeal to have his prison sentence reduced.

Lawrence Mubango (33), formerly of Parknoe House, Tyrone Court, Inchicore, Dublin, had pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to Ashely Ncube at Parknoe House on May 17th, 2018. He also admitted to assault causing harm to Nhlanhla Nduli.

When paramedics arrived at the scene, they found Mr Ncube lying on the ground with multiple loops of bowel and intestines protruding from his stomach.

Mubango had told gardaí he believed the two men were going to try to rape his partner and he was trying to protect her.

However, Judge Pauline Codd, sitting at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, said there was no substance to his claims and sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment with 18 months suspended.

He later appealed the length of the sentence on the grounds that the judge erred when she identified a headline term of 12-and-a-half years for the offences.

Dismissed

"The starting point for the sentence had been wrong," James Dwyer SC, for Mubango, told the Court of Appeal at a hearing on Tuesday.

However, the three-judge court has dismissed the appeal.

In a judgment issued on Thursday by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, the appellate court said it was satisfied the headline sentence identified by the trial judge was within her margin of discretion and there had been no “error in principle” on her part.

Mr Justice McCarthy, sitting with Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, also noted that the reduction from the headline term to eight-and-a-half years "represented a very substantial discount" with which three-judge court was not going to interfere.

At the appeal hearing, Mr Dwyer acknowledged his client was guilty of a "very serious offence", but he claimed it had been "an act of recklessness and was not intentional", adding it was the result of "drug-fuelled paranoia".

There was an element of "spontaneity" about the assault, which was usually absent from similar offences placed at the higher end of the scale, counsel added.

Mr Dwyer also said that although his client had pleaded guilty to the charges and had expressed remorse for his actions, the mitigation he had received had been "modest".

Prior convictions

Eoin Lawlor BL, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told the court Mr Ncube had been "eviscerated" by Mubango, and at the time of the assault, the assailant had a number of relevant previous convictions for crimes of violence, including the use of offensive weapons.

Mr Lawlor said the trial judge was entitled to consider the assault at the highest end of the scale for this type of offending, adding that the appellant had armed himself with the knife "when neither of his victims were armed".

In July 2019, the sentencing court was told that Mubango and the two other men had been drinking alcohol, smoking cannabis and taking cocaine in the apartment when Mubango became paranoid and began asking one of the men if he had tried to sleep with his partner.

He began punching the two men and they left. Mubango armed himself with a kitchen knife and followed the men out into a public corridor where he stabbed Mr Nduli in the chest.

He then stabbed Mr Ncube who dropped to the floor. Mubango stood over the victim stabbing him, even as Mr Ncube held his hands up asking the attacker to stop.

Judge Codd said the three men were all "out of their heads" on drugs and alcohol and that Mubango acted impulsively in a fit of jealously and paranoia.

At one stage, before the knife attacks, he threatened to jump off the balcony until his partner talked him out it.

She noted Mr Ncube was stabbed in the liver and continued to suffer with issues from this injury and may need a liver transplant.

The 24-year-old was previously involved in martial arts, but now has difficulties with mobility and breathing and struggles to walk upstairs.

Mr Nduli was stabbed in the chest and needed medical treatment though his injuries were less severe. He said he was psychologically affected by the memory of the gardaí, who had arrived in response to an emergency call, pointing guns at him.

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