Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Devout atheist-slayer sentenced to jail

AFP , BRISBANE

A devout Christian who killed a man and injured his wife in a frenzied axe attack after they told him they were atheists was jailed for 18 years in Australia yesterday.

Drifter Ashley John Appoo, 40, pleaded guilty in the Queensland state Supreme Court to manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm.

The court heard Appoo was hitchhiking in November 2001 when John Leslie McDonald and his wife Alois picked him up and took him home for lunch.

He ended up staying two days at the couple's home in rural Queensland before Alois told him she and her husband were atheists.

Appoo began punching the woman, then turned on her husband when he tried to intervene.

The court was told Appoo then went outside, seized an axe and began attacking the couple, hitting John McDonald in the head and leg.

McDonald died from his injuries and his wife sustained fractures to her jaw, ribs and ankle and an axe wound to her leg.

Defense lawyers said Appoo had suffered from violent rages and a personality disorder since 1995 when he was hit on the head with a didgeridoo -- a long, tubular Aboriginal musical instrument.

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