CONTENT WARNING: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence.
The man who stabbed a Queanbeyan petrol station worker to death in 2017 has been sentenced for his role in a brutal attack on prison guards, during which he said, “I’ve killed before and I’ll kill again”.
Zeeshan Akbar was murdered by a 16-year-old, who is legally unable to be named, so is identified as DM, at his workplace on 6 April 2017.
DM and his 15-year-old co-offender, DS, had embarked on a crime spree in Queanbeyan that night, during which the older boy repeatedly stabbed 29-year-old Mr Akbar with a knife and then wrote the letters ‘I’ and ‘S’ on the service station’s window with his victim’s blood.
He pleaded guilty to charges that included murder and was re-sentenced to a total prison term of 27 years with a non-parole period of over 20 years on appeal in 2022, making him eligible for parole in November 2037.
Meanwhile, in December 2020, the then-20-year-old was being held at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre along with another inmate, 23-year-old Noel Barrett.
The pair tried to get buprenorphine injections from staff, even though they had not been assessed for them. Later, they attacked two correctional officers and pushed them into an office.
While one officer escaped, DM used a sharpened, prison-made metal weapon to cut into the second officer’s neck and threatened to kill him when other guards came close, so the guards retreated and tried to negotiate with him.
“I want my bupe injection,” he told them, saying he would kill the officer if it wasn’t given to him.
DM had made the officer kneel with his shirt around his neck, had tied his hands behind his back with a skipping rope and held the weapon against his neck.
Over the next six hours, he relentlessly assaulted him.
“I’ll end him … I’ve killed before and I’ll kill again. I don’t give a f-k,” he said at one stage.
DM repeatedly punched the officer in the face, kicked him, spat on him, shattered a lightbulb over his head and poured an undiluted chemical disinfectant over him, laughing as he did so. This caused painful chemical burns to the officer.
He also sprayed the officer with insect repellent, threatened to set him alight, put a box over his head, and tied him to a chair.
About six hours after it began, DM surrendered his weapon and allowed the officer to leave.
In a published decision by NSW District Court Judge Andrew Coleman, released this month, he said the officer had been in significant physical pain throughout the whole period and was left with numerous injuries.
As burns covered 10 per cent of his body, he was taken to hospital for specialist burn care and stayed there until January 2021.
The prosecution argued that the nature, repetitiveness and cruelty of the assaults against the officer “effectively amounted to torture”.
Judge Coleman described the offences as “grave” and accepted DM’s actions were much more serious than Barrett’s. He also found DM hadn’t shown remorse.
“What should have been an ordinary day at work where they serve the community in the corrections service has ended with what may be lifelong psychological consequences and limited career prospects for each of them as a result of the brazen criminality of the offending,” he said of the two officers who were injured.
DM, now aged 22, and Barrett, a 25-year-old father-of-one born in Albury, both pleaded guilty to charges that included specially aggravated detain in company with intent to obtain advantage.
Both are now jailed in a high-risk management centre, which involves conditions similar to solitary confinement with very limited yard time.
DM has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and it is likely that he has a mild intellectual disability. He also experienced significant childhood trauma, including when his father forced him to stab him with a knife.
Judge Coleman said he had poor prospects of rehabilitation and his chances of re-offending were high.
DM was convicted and sentenced to 13 years’ jail with a non-parole period of eight-and-a-half years, to begin when the non-parole period for his murder sentence ends.
This means he is not eligible for parole until May 2046, while his head sentence expires in November 2050.
Barrett was convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ jail with a six-and-a-half-year non-parole period. He is eligible to be released in June 2029.