Sarah Connor arrives at court in Denpasar, Bali. March 13, 2017. Photo Alan Putra Bali Photo: Alan PutraBali: David Taylor, the boyfriend of Byron Bay woman Sara Connor, has been sentenced to six years’ jail for the death of a Balinese police officer.
Prosecutors had requested that the couple both serve eight years behind bars.
Ms Connor, who was tried separately, was sentenced to four years’ jail on the same charge of fatal group assault.
The bloodied corpse of Wayan Sudarsa, a member of Bali’s police force for 35 years, was found on Legian beach on August 17 last year with 42 wounds, including grisly head injuries.
The death was linked to Ms Connor, 46, after cards from her handbag, which she claimed had been stolen, were found at the crime scene.
Mr Taylor, a 34-year-old British DJ who was known as DJ Nutzo, confessed to bashing Mr Sudarsa with several weapons, including the officer’s binoculars, a mobile phone and a Bintang beer bottle, which smashed on impact.
However, he said it was Mr Sudarsa who had attacked him, and he had been acting in self-defence.
Mr Taylor and Ms Connor were both indicted on three alternative charges: murder, fatal group assault or assault leading to death.
The charges carry maximum sentences of 15, 12 and seven years respectively.
However, prosecutors later did not ask for the murder charge to be imposed, finding Taylor had no intention to kill the officer.
On Monday, Taylor was found guilty of the charge of fatal group assault. Taylor said he accepted the charge and thanked the judges. The seven months Taylor has already spent behind bars will be deducted from his six-year sentence.
In sentencing, the judge said Taylor had been polite in court, had never been jailed before and had apologised to the family of the victim.
Mr Taylor’s parents, John and Janet, had tears in their eyes as they tightly hugged Mr Taylor after the sentencing.
Afterwards outside court, Mr Taylor’s father said “at the end we are content with the sentence”.
“Concerning the tragic events of that night on Legian beach and the subsequent trial we are immensely saddened and our hearts go out to the widow of officer Sudarsa and to his family to whom we send our deepest condolences,” he said.
“However we do believe our son David feared for his own life that night and his actions reflect that.”
John Taylor’s voice quavered as he paid tribute to his son’s lawyer Haposan Sihombing and his team who “have provided guidance and support for our family and for our son right from the start and consistently through these very difficult months”.
John Taylor also thanked the British consular office for its support.
“We are indebted to many who have stood by us, prayed for us and supported us through this time particularly new friends here in Bali who we know will continue to support and visit our son through the years ahead,” Mr Taylor said.
Told of the verdict by Fairfax Media, Mr Sudarsa’s widow, Ketut Arsini, held back tears and with a shaky voice said: “What can I say, if that’s the best, I can’t say anything.”
“I don’t know the law, I don’t know legal matters, it’s up to the prosecutor, the law (judge)… if that’s what’s been decided, then I can’t really say anything.”
Prosecutor Ni Luh Oka Ariani said prosecutors would consider whether to appeal the sentence.
The fight between Taylor and the police officer started after Ms Connor’s handbag went missing while Taylor and Ms Connor – who had been lovers for four months and were having a romantic rendezvous in Bali – were kissing by the water’s edge.
Mr Sudarsa stated he was a police officer, but Mr Taylor believed this was a bogus claim, and began frisking him, accusing him of stealing the handbag.
“If he was a policeman, why didn’t he help me, why did he laugh at me?” he said in the Denpasar District Court.
Taylor testified that he had had three beers and shared an arak cocktail – made with Balinese spirits – over six hours. He denied he had felt aggressive, and said that on the night he had been happy at the prospect of the week ahead in Bali with his new lover. He later tested negative for drugs.
He said Mr Sudarsa had pushed him to the ground and punched him. At one point, he testified, Mr Sudarsa’s arm was on his throat.
“I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid I was going to die. I never experienced it before – I was really scared,” Taylor told a court hearing.
Both Taylor and Ms Connor testified that he had acted alone when he bashed the officer.
They said Ms Connor – whom they both claimed had earlier tried to break up the fight – had been searching for her bag at the time the fatal blows were inflicted.
Taylor insisted Mr Sudarsa, a married father of two, had still been alive when he left him on the beach.
However, he took the officer’s wallet and mobile phone from his body.
Ms Connor cut up his identity cards when the couple returned to their Kuta homestay Kubu Kauh Inn, after unsuccessfully trying to flag down a motorcycle taxi, purportedly to go to the police station.
She said she had cut up the cards to protect the police officer from identity theft, a claim the prosecution labelled “irrational”.
The following morning the couple went to Jimbaran, where they enjoyed two days of their holiday, having a swim and lunch at the beach, oblivious to the fact the police officer was dead.
Ms Connor testified that it was only when she switched on her phone to pay her car registration two days later that she received anxious messages from her friends. Her face was plastered all over the news after her cards had been found near the battered corpse of a police officer. Police were combing the resort island looking for them.
“After I received the phone call, we were both crying,” Ms Connor said. “That’s when I asked David, ‘Did you hit him with something?’ He told me yes,” Ms Connor said. “We were desperate.”
Panicked, they burnt the bloodied clothes they had been wearing on the night of Mr Sudarsa’s death and Taylor threw the officer’s mobile phone against a wall.
They then went to the n consulate, where police were waiting for them.
Much of what initially emerged about the couple’s claims of what occurred on the night of August 17 was bizarre, confused, contradictory and fluid.
Taylor initially claimed he had gone to help a man who was lying face down in the sand and was bitten on the finger, prompting his own lawyer to say he believed his client was hiding something and would reveal the “whole truth” soon.
However, he later won praise from prosecutors for being honest before the court, apologising to the victim’s family and expressing remorse.
Taylor wrote a letter to Mr Sudarsa’s widow, Ketut Arsini, in November, saying: “I really cannot believe that my terrible actions may have contributed to the taking of another life.”
However, Ms Arsini told Fairfax Media at the time she could not forgive the couple and said her husband of 31 years might have been saved if Ms Connor had sought help instead of returning to their Kuta homestay.
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