From: The Australian
NGUYEN Tuong Van's brother, Nguyen Khoa, repeatedly slashed a teenager with a samurai sword, seriously wounding the 17-year-old's arm, buttock, ankle and left knee.
Khoa was sentenced to three years in jail for the 1998 attack, which resulted in the victim requiring plastic surgery. But County Court judge Meryl Sexton suspended the jail term because Khoa's "personal situation ... (had) become so traumatic because of (his) brother's situation".
Details of Khoa's conviction can be published today for the first time after Judge Sexton yesterday lifted a publication restriction imposed to avoid jeopardising Van's plea for clemency.
Khoa faced court in June last year, where he pleaded guilty to riotous assembly and recklessly causing serious injury.
In December 1998, Khoa was involved in a brawl between Asian and Islander youths in a park in the northern Melbourne suburb of Reservoir.
The prosecution alleged that Khoa armed himself with a samurai sword and struck Glen Kohu repeatedly, causing him serious injury.
Judge Sexton said Mr Kohu was confined to a wheelchair after the attack, forced to leave school and had since struggled to maintain employment. The trial took more than four years to reach the County Court, in part because of concerns about the effect it would have on the Singapore trial of Van, who was arrested in December 2002. In April 2003, Judge Sexton agreed to adjourn the case because of Van's trial in Singapore.
"Amongst the reasons for my doing so which I can refer to was the effect on you of having your twin brother awaiting trial in Singapore for a capital offence," Judge Sexton said.
Khoa is a convicted drug trafficker. Van claimed in his trial he had been trying to smuggle heroin to pay for his brother's mounting legal bills.
The court heard that Khoa, now 25, left home against his mother's wishes, abused drugs and alcohol and was a frequent customer of Melbourne's Crown casino. He had also previously served time for drug-trafficking offences and was released from prison in July 2002.
Judge Sexton said Van's arrest resulted in "an increase in (the) level of (Khoa's) maturity" but that he had relapsed into heroin use in 2003, possibly as a result of his brother's arrest in Singapore.
Judge Sexton said Khoa's crimes warranted a custodial sentence of three years, which she suspended for three years in recognition of Khoa's personal circumstances.
Khoa was in Singapore this week for the execution of his brother. Van's lawyer, Lex Lasry QC, said yesterday Khoa had been distressed following the hanging but denied he was suicidal. "He's in a most tragic situation but hopefully today for him is the start of the rest of his life," he said.
"And what we want Khoa to do is take inspiration from his brother, not guilt, and move forward and carve out a life for himself in a way that his brother would want him to."