NSW woman not guilty over cousin stabbing

Angelo Risso
·3-min read

A Sydney woman has been found not guilty over the fatal stabbing of her younger cousin in a fight over a luxury car, in what was her second retrial.

Katherine Abdallah, 39, had been accused of arming herself with two knives and killing cousin Suzie Sarkis, 21, on February 9, 2013 in the kitchen of her Brighton-Le-Sands townhouse.

The pair had been fighting over Ms Abdallah's new $184,000 Mercedes car, which Ms Sarkis had driven the day prior without Ms Abdallah's permission.

Ms Sarkis had a suspended licence at the time and was caught driving more than 50km/h over the speed limit along Princes Highway in Wolli Creek.

She was pulled over by police but subsequently sped off while officers were checking her details.

When told by police her car was involved in the incident, Ms Abdallah said of Ms Sarkis: "(She) is going to be in serious trouble when I get her. You guys will probably get called back."

The following afternoon, the pair had a physical altercation on the street in Brighton-Le-Sands, hours before the incident which resulted in Ms Sarkis' death about 6pm.

The stabbing was also immediately preceded by another brawl.

Ms Abdallah later falsely told authorities an offender who fled the premises had injured Ms Sarkis with a vase, and also cleaned the knives used in the fatal fight.

She was found guilty of manslaughter in 2015 and sentenced to at least eight years and three months in prison.

A retrial in 2017 again found her guilty of manslaughter, with a non-parole sentence of six years and nine months imposed in May 2018.

Her conviction was quashed on appeal in late 2019, with another retrial ordered.

But Ms Abdallah - who claimed self-defence - was found not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday after a judge-only trial overseen by Justice Stephen Rothman, prompting screams of anguish from Ms Sarkis' family.

Justice Rothman told the court Ms Sarkis was likely intoxicated by cocaine and withdrawing from Xanax tablets, the "combined effect (of which) would render the deceased extremely aggressive and possessing extreme rage".

This explained her aggression in the fight immediately preceding her fatal stabbing, including what he labelled as the "pummelling" of Ms Abdallah in her living room.

He said the Crown had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Ms Abdallah's behaviour was unreasonable in the circumstances and didn't constitute self-defence.

"The accused ran from the deceased into the kitchen. The accused grabbed the knives. She considered that was necessary to defend herself," Justice Rothman said.

"At the final altercation when the fatal injury is inflicted, the deceased has her arms by her side. However, in my view, this does not signify surrender or a cessation of her violence.

"It seems that the level of aggression and rage, and possibly the strength, of the deceased was such that the accused was, assuming a degree of rationality not necessarily afforded to someone in the middle of a trauma, unable to overcome the deceased without assistance."

Ms Abdallah left the court in tears after the verdict.