Appeal dismissed for murder at the motel
The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal against the minimum prison sentence imposed on Samuel Moses Samson (34) last year for the murder of Azalia Wilson at the Bavarian Motel in 2019.
On June 3 last year, following a jury trial at Invercargill High Court, Samson was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum period of 17 years in prison without parole.
Ms Wilson, 21 and mother of Samson’s baby girl, died from blunt force injuries to her head, neck, abdomen and face on November 17, 2019.
At a hearing earlier this month, Samson’s lawyer, Nicolette Levy, QC, told Justices Gilbert, Mander and Fitzgerald that the minimum jail sentence was excessive, given her mental health issues. and his underprivileged upbringing.
She sought to admit as evidence a consultant psychiatrist’s report dealing with these issues and requested that the minimum prison term be reduced to 13½ years.
Ms Levy said that at the time of her sentencing, her then solicitor, Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, was restrained by her instructions not to present the psychiatrist’s report to Judge Gerald Nation because it contained admissions partial to the crime.
The report revealed that Samson suffered from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition more serious than PTSD, and suffered traumatic brain injury as a child.
This has led to a propensity for violence in domestic relationships and addiction to drugs and alcohol, Ms Levy said.
It was unfair that Samson had to wait 17 years before he was allowed to return to the community, no matter how much progress he might make.
In today’s ruling, Justices Gilbert, Mander and Fitzgerald said they would not normally admit on appeal evidence that was deliberately withheld from the sentencing judge for strategic reasons.
However, they had decided to accede to the request “with some reluctance” in the general interest of justice.
They accepted that Samson’s “truly appalling upbringing” helped explain his offending, as well as his deep-seated deficits in impulse control and anger.
However, there was no evidence of significant intellectual disability and the offense was premeditated.
He had gone to the hotel intending to brutally murder Ms Wilson, and his subsequent actions were “calculated and extremely ruthless”.
“None of this is adequately explained by a lack of impulse control.”
Any discount that might otherwise have been warranted should be reduced to account for Samson’s long history of serious and escalating domestic violence.
Therefore, the minimum prison sentence was appropriate and the judges dismissed the appeal against the sentence.
– By Guy Williams
PIJF legal journalist