Australian woman Sara Connor will learn her fate in a Bali court this afternoon, after seven months behind bars for her alleged involvement in the killing of an on-duty police officer in Bali.
In the end, the 46-year-old’s predicament never had the intrigue to gain the great public attention of cases of the past. Despite an early peak in interest after the arrest of the Byron Bay resident and her boyfriend, British man David Taylor, it became clear the case lacked enough mystery to keep the Australian public hooked.
Erwin Siregar, the woman’s lead lawyer who also represented Schapelle Corby more than a decade ago, had told the ABC as much just after her arrest last year.
When we had suggested he had another Corby on his hands, he quickly dismissed the notion, saying the case was far more straight forward and not complicated. There was no hidden explanation for the man’s death.
But in the same court where Ms Corby was sentenced in 2005, this afternoon a panel of three judges will rule if Connor will be jailed for eight years as the prosecutors have demanded, receive a lesser or greater sentence, or be set free. And there will be a large media presence to capture the moment.
Hard to predict outcome
The Indonesian court system is not easy to predict, but prosecutors in the case have been clear Connor’s attitude before the court played a great role in their request for lengthy jail time.
In their sentencing submission to the court, they demanded the Australian and 34-year-old Taylor be jailed for eight years for group assault causing death, a charge that carries a lesser sentence than unpremeditated murder, which they were also considering.
“Sara has never admitted what she’s done. She didn’t admit she’s done it. She didn’t show any signs of regret,” the head criminal prosecutor, Ketut Maha Agung told the ABC.
From the beginning prosecutors have argued that actions of both the accused led to the man’s death.
“Whether or not they [the suspects] admit what they have done, express regret that would influence our sentence demand,” he said.
But the prosecutors message has been at times confusing. In the court they have also claimed an apology from Connor while she continued to maintain her innocence was a sign she was guilty.
In relation to the British man though, they were less condemning, saying he had been remorseful and honest about his role in the killing.
Taylor has admitted to hitting the veteran police officer Wayan Sudarsa with a pair of binoculars, a mobile phone, his fists and ultimately dealing the fatal blow with a smashed beer bottle.
Low point of the trial
Connor said she was bitten on the inner thigh by the victim as she tried to separate the men.
Officer Sudarsa’s body was found with 42 wounds, more than a dozen to his head and neck on August 17 last year. He had worked as a police officer for more than three decades.
A low point of the trial, which began in November, came when Connor offered the man’s wife the equivalent of $2,500 in compensation.
“My bag was stolen, I tried to protect the late Mr Sudarsa by separating David from him,” Connor wrote in a letter to his widow, Ketut Arsini.
“But now because I tried to separate them I am in a terrible position.”
But in court Ms Arsini angrily rejected the offer of money.
“All I want is for the defendant to be given a sentence fitting for what she did,” she told the court amid applause from the gallery.
Connor ‘expecting the worst’
Prosecutors have considered three charges against the pair, unpremeditated murder, group assault leading to death and assault leading to death. Any of those can be chosen by the judges, but history shows they are more likely to be guided by the prosecutors’ recommendations.
“Both defendants did not have any intent to kill him. There was no intention to cause the loss of life,” Mr Agung said to explain why the murder charge was not pursued.
Lawyer Erwin Sirgegar, argued the only crime his client should be charged with was destroying evidence which carries a maximum seven-month prison term.
The couple burnt their bloodied clothes and Connor admitted to destroying ID cards of the officers. But had told the court she did not know the officer was dead when she left the beach with Taylor.
“Sara is not guilty,” Mr Siregar said. “This is not fair, 1,000 per cent I said this is not fair.”
For the Australian woman the potential of lengthy jail time seemed to be setting in, in recent weeks.
“I am expecting the worst,” she told reporters after a recent court hearing. “I am so shocked with the pre-sentence, I have lost all my hopes to see my children growing up,” she said, referring to her two young boys who are being cared for by their father and her ex-husband in Australia.