Sigaragh Baea: Killer’s ‘appalling’ attack on prison guards

A man who once murdered his childhood friend’s loving mother because he was “jealous” has returned to court after an “appalling” prison attack.

Sigaragh Baea, 29, appeared before the County Court of Victoria on Monday, pleading guilty to injuring a custodial officer and assaulting another in an unprovoked attack.

CCTV played to the court showed Baea throwing punches at the two officers just seconds after he was let out of his cell at Barwon Prison on February 15 last year.

Baea was jailed for a minimum of 17 years in February 2017 after the frenzied stabbing murder of Prasad Somawansa, 48, at her home in Hoppers Crossing, in Melbourne’s southwest, a year earlier.

He had reunited with Mrs Somawansa’s son Wish, a childhood friend, just weeks earlier, but became jealous of their happy and supportive family life after being invited over for dinner.

His time in custody was extended in 2018 to a minimum of 19 years after a violent bashing of a fellow inmate just six months after he was sentenced.

The court was told Baea attacked two prison guards, Shay Burns and Steve Goodes, at Barwon Prison shortly after midday on February 15 after a “misunderstanding” with staff about whether he wanted to spend some time out of his cell in the exercise yard.

Baea had used the prison intercom system to ask “when his run out was” and was told he hadn’t requested time but it could be arranged.

Moments after he was let out of his cell, Baea began swinging punches at Ms Burns, whose back was turned, before turning his attention to Mr Goodes.

Ms Burns was knocked unconscious and suffered serious injuries, while Mr Goodes received bruises and a cut to his forehead before other officers were able to subdue Baea.

The court was told that in the 19 months since the attack, Baea had been moved to a solitary cell and was now shackled or handcuffed when outside his cell.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Burns said she was still receiving physical therapy and psychological treatment to deal with her ongoing injuries.

“Every single day since the attack has been marked by a dark cloud,” she told the court.

“I loved my job and everything about it … this assault took away that feeling and the great feeling of giving back to society and giving empathy to those in custody.

“I woke up to my colleagues attempting to subdue my attacker – this sound will never leave me.”

Baea, who appeared in court via a video link, showed little emotion as the details of his offending were revealed.

But his barrister, Bethany East, argued her client was remorseful and had described his actions as an “over response” to a perceived slight.

She told the court her client had since enrolled in a prison program to address his issues.

The matter will return to court later this year. Judge Mark Gamble flagged he may extend Baea’s non-parole period.

Baea, who was born in Papua New Guinea, will be deported from Australia when released from prison.

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