Terrorist’s jail term raised to 48 years after garden shears attack
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A self-described “soldier of Islamic State” who stabbed another woman in prison has been sentenced for a second terrorist act and had her jail term increased to 48 years.
Momena Shoma was less than three years into a marathon stretch at Melbourne’s Dame Phyllis Frost prison when, on October 30 last year, she used garden shears in an attempt to kill another woman.
Shoma targeted the inmate because the woman was Canadian, in the hope the attack would generate international media coverage. She later admitted she intended to kill the woman for Islamic State.
The victim saw the shears in time to raise her hands in defence and suffered a cut to the base of her left thumb, the Supreme Court heard, as other prisoners disarmed Shoma. The attacker was seen laughing soon after.
Shoma, 28, was jailed in 2019 for engaging in a terrorist act, after she stabbed homestay host Roger Singaravelu in the neck in his Mill Park home the previous year, and on Friday had her 42-year jail term increased to 48 years.
Justice Jane Dixon increased Shoma’s non-parole period from 31 years to 36 years, meaning the earliest the Bangladeshi national can be released is 2054. Shoma pleaded guilty to engaging in a terrorist act and being a member of a terror organisation in connection to the jailhouse stabbing.
Shoma was moved into a less-restrictive unit about three weeks before she saw an inmate leave the shears unattended, and concealing the tool in her headscarf and a newspaper, approached the Canadian.
She later admitted to investigators she had previously lied her way through a deradicalisation program, and referred to herself as a “soldier of Islamic State” who would attack again if given the chance.
Justice Dixon told her on Friday: “Your commission of an act of terrorism was motivated by a warped and violent ideology that is antithetical to the values of our democratic society.”
Shoma had a privileged childhood in Dhaka but her mother’s death in 2015 left her grief-stricken and without direction, the court heard previously, and she consumed Islamic State’s online propaganda and became radicalised.
She came to Australia in 2018 under the pretence of studying at university and was staying with Mr Singaravelu and his family when she used a knife to stab him in the neck as he napped next to his young daughter. He survived despite her intention to kill.
Justice Dixon said the second attack was also serious and that it was only a matter of luck that the victim wasn’t more seriously hurt or killed.
The woman had largely recovered, the court heard, but had experienced flashbacks and nightmares.
Shoma’s defiance in maintaining her radical beliefs and lack of remorse meant her prospects for reform were poor, the judge said, although the offender’s attitude could change in coming years.
She now spends up to 23 hours a day in her cell and is isolated from other prisoners when in the exercise yard.
Source: The Age