Afghan refugee jailed over Kilburn fight after murder charge downgraded
An Afghan refugee who was found lying unconscious on the side of a suburban Adelaide road next to the body of his dead friend has been sentenced to 21 months in jail.
Mohammad Bashir Rafi, 32, was initially charged with the murder of his friend and fellow Afghan refugee Karim Azizi, but prosecutors later accepted a guilty plea to the lesser charge of intentionally causing harm.
The two men were found lying on the side of Le Hunte Street in Kilburn in Adelaide’s north in the early hours of November 21, 2016.
The District Court heard the men bonded because they both had come to Australia to escape conflict in their home country and were working to send money back to their families.
On the night of Mr Azizi’s death, the men had been drinking heavily and witnesses saw them staggering through the streets of Kilburn.
They saw Rafi helping his friend to walk and then both of them lying on the ground next to each other talking amicably.
At one point, they tried to get up but both fell, hitting their heads against the ground before a fight broke out between them over Rafi’s damaged mobile phone.
The court heard Rafi ran to a friend’s house to tell them he had hit Mr Azizi a number of times and that he couldn’t get up before returning to where he was found.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Joanne Tracey said a precise cause of death could not be determined as it was difficult to tell which injuries had been caused by the drunken falls earlier in the night and which were caused during the fight.
“Although you have little memory of the events, you accept that must have struck Mr Azizi given your admissions to your friends,” she said.
“You say you were good friends, you were very sorry for his death and for his family’s loss.
“There is no doubt the circumstances of this are tragic for all concerned.”
Judge Tracey imposed a non-parole period of 12 months, which was backdated to when he was arrested in November 2016.
Rafi faces deportation on his release from custody.
Victim’s family living with ‘sense of helplessness’
In a victim impact statement previously read to the court, Mr Azizi’s daughter Hamidah Karim said her family continued to suffer from the loss of her “humble and kind” father.
“Our whole family has suffered badly as a result of the crime perpetrated by Mohammad Rafi,” she said.
“The world has gone upside-down for my family and me since we lost our father, he was everything for us — we are lost without him.”
She said her mother was now a shadow of the person she once was and their family was struggling with their lives as refugees in Pakistan.
“Our experiences before we fled [conflict in Afghanistan] and while fleeing were harrowing,” she said.
“Still now we must deal with a terrible existence that people in Australia are likely to be able to even imagine.”
Hamidah Karim said her father had dreamt of his family living a life free of violence.
“He used to tell us that one day we will all be together in a safe place in which we all will have access to education, work, liberty … he believed he had found such a place in South Australia,” she said.
“Instead, his family are living with a sense of helplessness and in circumstances which seem hopeless.”