Canberra musician Christopher David Navin has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the manslaughter of Canberra punk rocker Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber (aka the “Ginger Ninja”), who was stabbed to death in 2013.
As The Canberra Times reports, 29-year-old Navin was today sentenced to 12 years in prison with a non-parole period of six years. Given the time he has already served, Navin will be eligible for release in February 2020.
Navin, who was Sofer-Schreiber’s former housemate, had admitted to inflicting 73 stab wounds on Sofer-Schreiber at a home in the Canberra suburb of Lyneham on Boxing Day of 2013.
In December 2015, Navin plead not guilty to a charge of murder by reason of mental impairment, as his lawyers pointed to his diagnosis as a schizophrenic. Navin was ultimately found guilty of manslaughter because of diminished responsibility.
Due to his mental illness, Navin’s moral culpability was reduced, but at today’s sentencing hearing Justice John Burns accepted that Navin’s actions were premeditated and that he intended to kill despite knowing it was wrong.
The maximum sentence Justice Burns could have imposed on Navin for Sofer-Schreiber’s manslaughter was 20 years, but the judge took Navin’s mental state into account.
“Were it not for mental illness you undoubtedly would have been convicted of murder,” he said.
Justice Burns noted that Navin will need to be constantly supervised to monitor his mental health and to make sure he is taking appropriate medication, which is partly why Navin has been given a lengthy parole period.
Sofer-Schreiber’s family and friends are disappointed with Navin’s sentence. Speaking outside court, Sofer-Schreiber’s cousin Catherine McDonald said, “Nic was a harmless, kind and gentle person who would not have been able to defend himself when Chris Navin entered his home.
“However, it’s Nic’s life more than his death that we hope people will remember and we will endeavour to keep the memory of Nic alive and continue to support Nic’s love of music through the annual Gingerfest Music Festival.”
Navin’s attack on Sofer-Schreiber is said to have lasted for “tens of minutes”, before Sofer-Schreiber died of a stab to the neck.
In December 2014, the inaugural Gingerfest music festival was held in honour of Sofer-Schreiber, with some of Australia’s most renowned punk and rock acts turning up to honour the muso. The festival returned in December 2015, featuring sets by the likes of Gay Paris, The Porkers, Irrelevant and The Mad Dash.