The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced a 35-year-old homeless man to 13 years in prison for the April murder of a Dutch woman and her 19-month-old daughter in their Chamkar Mon district home.
Chea Phin—the only suspect in the murder of Daphna Beerdsen and her daughter Dana—said during his December 2 trial that after drinking half a liter of rice wine, he broke into the victim’s home in Tonle Bassac commune to steal a bicycle.
When Daphna Beerdsen, 31, spotted him, she called for help and attacked him with a mop handle, he said.
“Then we beat each other and I stabbed her many times” with a screwdriver, Mr. Phin said during his trial. He added that he closed his eyes while stabbing Daphna Beerdsen and had not realized he injured the baby until afterward. He then stole an Apple laptop, a mobile phone and about $50 along with the bicycle.
Daphna Beerdsen was found dead on April 28 with six stab wounds. The infant was found alive, but with severe head trauma and stab wounds to her body. She was airlifted to Bangkok General Hospital, where she succumbed to her wounds.
Presiding Judge Nou Veasna on Wednesday told the courtroom that Chea Phin was sentenced to 13 years in prison under article 199 of the Criminal Code: murder “with no aggravating circumstances.”
Murder is punishable by 10 to 15 years in prison. Judge Veasna said he did not hand Mr. Phin the maximum sentence for several reasons.
“He is uneducated and self-educated,” he said without elaborating. “And he knows his mistake.”
Seng Singheng, a lawyer representing the victims, said he was satisfied with the court’s decision.
“His sentence…is acceptable because the killing was related to alcohol and was not premeditated,” he said.
Lay Nora, Mr. Phin’s court-appointed lawyer, who was not present during the sentencing hearing Wednesday, said by telephone he was not sure whether his client would appeal the decision.
Daphna Beerdsen worked as a consultant with the U.N. Her husband, Joris Oele, who works for U.N. Habitat, was in Preah Sihanouk province for a work-related conference when the attack occurred.
During his December 2 trial, Mr. Phin asked the court to punish him appropriately for the murders.
“But if possible, I want to see the sun again,” he added.
At about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Mr. Phin, shackled to another prisoner, shuffled from the courthouse to a waiting truck bound for Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison.
Asked whether he was disappointed with the verdict, he looked down and remained silent. Asked if he murdered the victims, he muttered “yes.”
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