Lake plunge child killer has sentence cut
A MELBOURNE woman who drove her family into a lake, killing three of her four small children, had her sentence slashed on appeal today by a Victorian Supreme Court judge.
Akon Guode, a Sudanese refugee, was jailed in 2017 for 26 years and six months for intentionally plunging her 4WD into a Wyndham Vale lake, 30km southwest of Melbourne.
Her four-year-old twins Hanger and Madit, and her 16-month old son Bol were killed. A fourth child who cannot be named survived.
Guode pleaded guilty to murder, infanticide and attempted murder in what former Supreme Court justice Lex Lasry called "a tragic mystery".
But on Thursday, at the Victorian Court of Appeal, Guode had her sentence slashed from 26 years with a minimum term of 20 to 18 years with a minimum term of 14.
The appeal judge found Guode "fatefully and irredeemably breached" her children's trust but also "her capacity to make calm and rational decisions was severely compromised by a mental condition which was not of her own making".
The court previously heard Guode had survived being raped and the death of her soldier husband in war-torn Sudan before moving to Australia to start a new life.
She wailed in court as her personal circumstances were read out last year.
The fatal ditching of the Toyota SUV happened on April 8, 2015, when the 38-year-old performed a U-turn and deliberately veered into the water.
Victoria Police collision investigator and civil engineer Detective Senior Constable Robert Hay said it was his opinion "that the car could not and did not just drift off the roadway".
He also said the tests demonstrated a driver would have to turn the steering wheel three times to get to the lake from the road next to it.
"During the drive-through it was demonstrated that there would be three turns of the steering wheel to get to the ballast area," Senior Constable Hay said.
A key witness previously told the court Guode thought she was under a "spell" and she claimed her lover's wife may have been behind it.
The fourth child who survived was pulled from the vehicle after a passer-by smashed the window and unbuckled the harness. Guode stood by the vehicle and watched as it filled with water.
- with AAP