Canberra: An Australian man was sentenced to jail for eight years for attempting to murder a dead man, in a case lawyers believe may be the world’s first.
Daniel James Darrington, 39, was sentenced by a court on Monday for the attempted murder of Rocky Matskassy almost two years ago, Xinhua reported.
However, the man will be eligible for parole in five years, the court said.
Last year, a jury found that Darrington had been wrestling with Matskassy, 31, over a gun, before the firearm subsequently discharged and killed Matskassy.
Believing that Matskassy was still alive, Darrington then shot the victim again.
The pair was arguing at a mutual friend’s house in March 2014, before Matskassy was assaulted by Darrington and accidentally hit by the stray bullet.
The jury cleared Darrington of murder, finding he was not responsible for the first shot that ultimately led to Matskassy’s death.
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But the jury accepted the prosecution’s version of events that the second shot that followed showed Darrington had made a calculated decision to kill Matskassy, without knowing he had already died.
Lawyers from both the sides were unable to cite a similar case during the trial, and before the verdict in December 2015 Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan described the matter as “peculiar and unusual”.
“The law in this state (Victoria) is because you have the criminal intent to kill and if you, the accused, thought the person was alive, even if he was in fact dead, the law says that would be attempted murder,” Coghlan said.