Bangladeshi student Momena Shoma sentenced to 42 years for terror attack on homestay landlord
(AAP: Erik Anderson)
A Bangladeshi student found guilty of engaging in a terrorist act after stabbing her homestay landlord in an Islamic State-inspired attack has been sentenced to 42 years in jail.
- Momena Shoma attacked her host with a kitchen knife while he was having a nap
- The court heard Shoma yelled “Allahu akbar” as she stabbed him
- She will not be eligible for parole until 2050
Momena Shoma attacked Roger Singaravelu with a kitchen knife while he was having an afternoon nap in his Mill Park home, in Melbourne’s north, in February 2018.
The Victorian Supreme Court had heard she yelled “Allahu akbar” as she plunged the knife into Mr Singaravelu’s neck with such force the blade tip broke off when it was dislodged.
His five-year-old daughter witnessed the attack and still suffers from fear, trauma and an inability to trust people.
Shoma pleaded guilty to engaging in a terrorist act for the advancing of a political, religious or ideological cause, namely violent jihad.
It is the first time a sentence has been handed down for that charge.
Shoma, who did not stand for sentencing in the Victorian Supreme Court, received a non-parole period of 31 years and six months.
Travelled to Australia with sole purpose to kill
Shoma had been granted a scholarship to study at La Trobe University, but Supreme Court Justice Lesley Taylor said Shoma’s only intention in coming to Australia was to carry out the “chilling” terrorist attack.
“You sought notoriety,” Justice Taylor said.
“You wished to be a martyr and to trigger the West.”
The court heard Shoma had brought the knife used in the attack with her from Bangladesh.
“You chose a method of attack that could be executed with speed,” Justice Taylor said.
Shoma was initially housed in Bundoora after moving to Australia, where she prepared for the attack by stabbing a mattress.
She moved to Mr Singaravelu’s home as an emergency after the original host family expressed concern over the event — but Mr Singaravelu said he was never notified about the incident.
Victim’s family ‘sentenced to life’
Mr Singaravelu has suffered from constant fear and has been unable to work since the attack.
His five-year-old daughter, who witnessed the attack, suffers from flashbacks and nightmares.
Outside court, Mr Singaravelu said the long sentence was “a big relief”.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
“We have clearly sent a message that we don’t tolerate terrorism in this country and we condemn it,” he said.
“The sentence that she copped will send a message to the world.
“While justice has been served our lives will never return to normal. We are sentenced to life.”
He said it was concerning that Australian authorities had granted Shoma a visa.
He is now taking legal action against the homestay company, saying he was never told that Shoma had stabbed her mattress in a “practice run” just days before the attack.
Mr Singaravelu’s wife Maha Solomon said the family had welcomed students from all over the world into their home but no longer did so because their trust had been betrayed.
“It was our way of showing our gratitude to Australia to the country that we have come to live in … by bringing these kids into our family,” she said.
“We so innocently took them thinking they needed safety but it has come out the other way.”
Mr Singaravelu said Shoma had shown no remorse.
“I still can’t believe that I’m still alive. I should be in a wooden box or in a wheelchair,” he said.
“Someone up there must be looking out for me.”
Shoma downloaded video from Islamic State’s media centre
The court previously heard Shoma carried out the attack to “trigger the west” and attempted to fatally stab Mr Singaravelu in the neck because he was “vulnerable” and an “easy target”.
Six days before the attack, Shoma had searched the internet looking for night-vision goggles so she could see in the dark, and later purchased them for $10, the court heard.
She became radicalised in 2013 and was joyous at the rise of the Islamic State caliphate in Syria and Iraq a year later.
On the morning of the attack she had downloaded a video from Islamic State’s media centre, Al Hayat, entitled Flames of War.