War survivor with ‘wasted life’ sentenced for threatening home’s residents with an axe

Albert McKnight 14 November 2021
Jairo Saul Cajina

Jairo Saul Cajina, 41, leaves custody after being sentenced on Tuesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Growing up during a civil war, Jairo Saul Cajina became so accustomed to being around weapons he used to play with assault rifles found in his cupboard.

Acting Justice Richard Refshauge told the ACT Supreme Court earlier in the week the 41-year-old was “clearly affected by his early experiences of war”, such as when it came to the number of charges in his 57-offence criminal history that related to possessing weapons.

Cajina had said he kept these weapons because he was fearful “someone might get at me”, although Justice Refshauge noted, “his fears do not appear to be rationally based”.

He was in court for sentencing over an incident last year that began when he drove to a home in Watson carrying a small axe.

He knocked on the door and asked to speak to someone who wasn’t there, so he was told to leave. Enraged, he climbed into the backyard and used the axe to smash a door, brickwork and a window.

He tried to enter another door but couldn’t. He hit the door with the axe while yelling threats at two women who were inside the home, including making comments like, “I have a sawn-off in my car”, and that one was “going to get bashed to death”.

Justice Refshauge said Cajina was born in Nicaragua and lived through its civil war, during which his father was jailed as a political prisoner. He became desensitised to weapons, even playing with assault rifles found in the cupboard. He eventually migrated to Australia.


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Justice Refshauge said the father-of-one had a long and complex drug history and also suffered major injuries in his life, including when he fell from the top storey of a building after being bashed and was left with head and spinal injuries.

He had also been attacked in the head with a machete, which suggested he should have known how “frightening” it would have been for the women inside the home when he was wielding an axe outside, Justice Refshauge said.

Cajina’s lawyer had argued his post-traumatic stress disorder was relevant in the offences.

Justice Refshauge said Cajina claimed he had gone to the house looking for “gear” before he was told to leave, then snapped, but had since recognised what he had done was wrong.

“It was my fault for carrying on. It was stupid. You don’t do things like that,” Cajina had said.

“I should have said ‘no worries’ and walked away.”

Cajina has been in custody since he was arrested about 18 months ago, although he spent some of that period behind bars for another sentence, pleaded guilty to charges that included threatening to inflict grievous bodily harm, possessing an offensive weapon and damaging property.


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He was given an 18-month suspended sentence, had to sign a good behaviour order for the same amount of time, and was released from custody that day.

“This time is, I think, probably your last chance,” Justice Refshauge told him.

“If you want to be a role model for your daughter, then you’ve got to get your act together.

“You’re old enough now to be able to see what a wasted life you had.

“It is a bad offence. You deserve to go to jail. But you’ve been in jail.”


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