TWO women convicted of murdering a nightclub owner nine years ago were finally sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court in Lautoka after three separate trials.
Lesi Nalave Tawake and Kelera Marama were convicted by the High Court for the murder of Sheryl Li on the night of June 10, 2004.
According to the court, Tawake and Marama, who had met in an orphanage, confronted the deceased at the nightclub office where she was retrieving change for the bar.
The two accused were at the office to steal but were confronted by the deceased. The court heard that the victim was assaulted several times on the head and back with liquor bottles that were kept in the office.
In sentencing Tawake and Marama, Justice Sudharshana De Silva described how the deceased was later found lying in a pool of blood by staff and was admitted to the Lautoka Hospital.
Justice De Silva said the victim, who never regained consciousness after the attack, was then transferred to the Auckland District Hospital in New Zealand where she later died.
He said this was the third trial for the accused for the same offence.
"In the first trial before John Connors both accused had pleaded guilty after their caution interview statements were admitted as evidence," he said.
"On September 6, 2005, both were sentenced to life imprisonment.
"The honourable judge did not fix any minimum term to be served."
The High Court judge added that the case had taken more than nine years to start during which period both accused had been in good behaviour and become mothers.
"Further this court will take into consideration the mental trauma both accused would have undergone for waiting for the trial for such a long period."
He ordered that Tawake serve a minimum sentence of six years while Marama serve a minimum of four years behind bars.