Do not pass go …

Shannon Bert Thomas has been sentenced to seven and a half years jail for the unlawful killing of a 62 year old woman. He will not be eligible for parole until he has served five and a half years of his sentence. It’s another example of domestic violence, Mr Thomas pleaded guilty.

The case and its reporting somehow leave me with a sense that justice was not done.

Let me kick off with the ABC’s reporting <HERE>. Ninemsn and WAtoday also give it a whirl and are not significantly more informative. The ABC …

A West Australian man has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years’ jail for bludgeoning a woman to death with an Aboriginal ceremonial stick.

Shannon Bert Thomas, 42, pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing the 62-year-old woman, who is not named for cultural reasons.

Which is code for the deceased is aboriginal. It doesn’t make it clear if the miscreant was also aboriginal. The ABC continues …

The two had been drinking at a house in Mirrabooka in December 2012 when the woman attacked Thomas with a wooden ceremonial stick, called a wadi.

A quick diversion to Wikipedia

A waddy, nulla nulla or hunting stick is an Australian Aboriginal war club.

A waddy is a heavy club constructed of carved timber. Waddies have been used in hand to hand combat, and were capable of splitting a shield, and killing or stunning prey.

… they were generally about one metre in length and sometimes had a stone head attached.

Waddy has also been spelled as wadi, wady, and waddie. The spelling stabilised around the mid-nineteenth century, partly to help distinguish it from the Arabic word wadi, a dry water course.

So more lethal weapon than ceremonial ornament. How quaint of the ABC.

She hit him twice, breaking his arm and causing a deep laceration to his head.

A quiet drink in a private place with family and friends and pursued with such enthusiasm that  “both Thomas and the victim were extremely intoxicated, with Thomas recording a blood alcohol level of 0.26 per cent“. Since the ABC gives no reason why this should lead to violence let’s switch to WAtoday where we learn that the victim was Mr Thomas’ partner’s cousin and …

As Thomas, 42, and his partner argued about infidelity accusations, the victim became involved, hitting him about the face with her fists.

He walked outside but she followed and struck him … with a one-metre waddy …

So the poor bastard has walked away from violence and has been pursued and hit twice with a heavy lump of wood, his arm is broken and blood is pouring from a head wound. He takes the waddy and strikes back. He’s drunk, he’s in pain, he’s dazed and confused. He strikes four times and his attacker dies as a consequence of one of the first two blows, there is no reason not to suppose it was the very first. Back to the ABC …

Supreme Court Commissioner Kevin Sleight said while Thomas had acted in self-defence, his response of hitting the victim four times was “excessive and not reasonable”.

Let us contrast this with another case, this one in NSW, again the ABC …

Kieran Loveridge was today jailed for at least four years for manslaughter, with a maximum of six years.

The 19-year-old randomly punched Mr Kelly in the head in July last year as he walked with his girlfriend and spoke on his mobile phone in the nightclub precinct.

The single punch knocked Mr Kelly to the ground and he died from head injuries in St Vincent’s Hospital two days later.

Mr Loveridge was drunk in a public place, out to cause trouble and killed his victim in a totally unprovoked attack. Mr Thomas was enjoying a drink in a private place, attempted to avoid violence and finally defended himself from a potentially lethal attack. Compare the sentences.

The reporting of this case is so sensitive that it is impossible for us to see whether justice has been done or not, for instance we know nothing of Mr Thomas’ prior behaviour.

The moral of the story is this …

… next time you are having a quiet drink at home and you are attacked with a deadly weapon be sure to dig deep into your fuddled brain and instantaneously come up with an entirely reasonable response.

Obstetrics …

Closing the gap

In remote Far North Queensland, evacuation for mandatory hospital births saves lives. However, morbidity and mortality for mothers and infants remain high. Results from a retrospective study of deliveries over a one-year period showed significant differences in obstetric risk and outcomes among rural and urban Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Caucasian women.

The findings of the study will not come as a surprise, poor health and poor outcomes are commoner in aboriginal women, whilst living remote from the Cairns or Thursday Island hospitals increases the risk of still birth in all groups.

It is my understanding that a pregnant woman from, say the Lockhart River community, is obliged to travel to Cairns at 26 weeks gestation and remain there until returning home with her new baby. In FNQ and other remote areas of Australia there are outreach programs and cultural support services that endeavour to raise the standard of medical care and reduce the burden of being away from home and family during this time.

The baby will be one of more than 2700 babies born at the Cairns Base Hospital in any year, a busy labour ward and a busy nursery. Chances are that at any one time there will be little aboriginal babies and little white babies in adjacent cribs. The notion that some of these babies owe the others an apology is ridiculous and unhelpful. The better notion is that they all stand equal before the constitution and all have a fair crack at a decent education and a fair go in life.