Sydney man jailed for murder after hacking ex-wife’s new partner to death with axe

Sydney man jailed for murder after hacking ex-wife’s new partner to death with axe

“It must be inferred that the final ordeal of the deceased must have been excruciatingly painful and terrifying but mercifully brief,” Judge Robert Button said on Friday.

“And one can also infer that the loss of the former wife of the offender to the man with whom she was soon to begin a new romantic life under such circumstances has been extraordinarily painful.”

Sydney man jailed for murder after hacking ex-wife’s new partner to death with axe
Thanh Tran found guilty of murdering his wife’s new partner in Cabramatta West. (9 News)
Thanh Tran was found guilty in October after murdering 59-year-old Pok Min Fah on March 14, 2019, outside his ex-wife’s home in Cabramatta West.

The now 79-year-old, who had no criminal history, did not deny repeatedly hitting him with the ax after hitting him with the car.

But he unsuccessfully argued that his judgment was significantly impaired due to a loss of control caused by trauma from his lived experience of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot’s regime.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Button sentenced him to 20 years with a non-parole period of 15 years, saying the sentence would almost certainly see him either die in prison or be released in a debilitated state.

“But that is the inevitable consequence of what Tran has done, and the stage in his life at which he has done it,” he said.

Tran and his ex-wife had recently divorced, but the intimate side of their marriage had ended two decades earlier.

A jury found that Tran was motivated by anger after the divorce. (9 News) (Nine)

She was in a new relationship with Fah and they were to move in together days after he was killed.

Tran had moved out of the Cabramatta family months earlier and was living in lonely and isolated circumstances in a nearby small flat.

“He maintained a great fondness for his daughter and had asked her to move in with him, an invitation she had declined,” the judge said.

Tran was sitting in his car outside the family home when he saw Fah walk out with a metal ladder that Tran had not brought with him when he moved out.

Tran drove his car straight at Fah, knocking him to the ground, before calmly stopping and retrieving the ax from the trunk.

As his defenseless victim lay on the ground, he repeatedly struck his head with the axe.

“To put things plainly, the deceased was hacked to death where he lay.”

The judge rejected claims that Tran had binoculars in the car because he sometimes used them to watch football games from a distance and that he had the ax for self-protection.

He explained Tran’s horrific experiences in Cambodia and Vietnam, where he had endured a life of great deprivation on many occasions and for a period of “gross inhumanity”.

He accepted that Tran was suffering from a mild version of major depression and that his life had been damaged by post-traumatic stress disorder, based on all the grossly unfortunate experiences he had endured.

“The loss of family life in late 2018 and early 2019 was, I accept, another loss, one that the offender was then unable to bear.

“If he was made eligible for release to parole, his prospects for rehabilitation would be excellent, but the judge noted that he had expressed no remorse whatsoever.

“It is remarkable that he has not even felt it necessary to express remorse for the undeniable suffering he has experienced over his former wife, and also over his beloved daughter, who was in the habit of referring to the deceased as ‘uncle.’

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