Indian origin man sentenced for assaulting woman in New Zealand

Auckland, May 7 : A 33-year-old Indian-origin man has been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison in New Zealand for sexually violating and fatally strangling a woman with Down syndrome in 2021, media reports said. Shamal Sharma showed no signs of emotion in the High Court at Auckland this week as Justice Edwin Wylie set the minimum term of imprisonment for the mandatory life sentence, the NZ Herald reported. Sharma was arrested in September 2021, two days after 27-year-old Lena Zhang Harrap's body was discovered about a kilometre away from her Mt. Albert home. According to court documents, Harrap encountered Sharma early in the morning when she had stepped out for a walk. He tortured her over a period of about two hours, inflicting multiple blows to her face before strangling her, which led to her death. Sharma left the area after abandoning the victim's body in the bushes and shrubbery, authorities said, adding that he was apprehended by police two days later. Harrap received 13 bruises and abrasions to her head, as well as blunt force trauma that caused brain injuries but were not fatal, according to a pathologist. Some injuries were so brutal that they could have independently caused her death, Crown prosecutor Matthew Nathan told the court while acknowledging Sharma's history of schizophrenia, but said the attack was motivated by sexual desire. "This has a degree of sadism through the infliction of pain," he told the judge. The court was told that barely 24 hours before the incident, Sharma had also violently preyed on a stranger jogging on the footpath, who managed to save herself and called the police from the nearest house. "No sentence is long enough, and no justice can replace the life and love that was lost," Harrap's mother said after the court judgment. Sharma's lawyer Jonathan Hudson said his client is suffering from schizophrenia, and had been living in his car after being evicted from emergency housing, the reported. The report quoted Justice Wylie as saying that Sharma's offence included "a high level of brutality and callousness against a profoundly vulnerable woman, described by the family as childlike". /IANS


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