Homeless man Shamal Sharma sentenced to 19 years in prison for ‘sadistic’ murder

"No sentence is long enough, and no justice can replace the life and love that was lost.”

33-year-old Shamal Sharma, an Indo-Fijian homeless man, has been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison by the High Court in New Zealand.

Mr Sharma, from Auckland, sexually violated and fatally strangled 27-year-old Lena Zhang Harrap, a woman with Down syndrome.

Ms Harrap’s mother told NZ Herald:

“No sentence is long enough, and no justice can replace the life and love that was lost.”

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Ms Harrap’s partially concealed body was discovered along a walkway about a kilometre from her home.

As per court documents, NZ Police believe Ms Harrap encountered Mr Sharma on her walk and made her way to a bush-lined concrete pathway.

Image: Lena Zhang Harrap (Source: NZ Police)

During his victim impact statement, Ms Harrap’s father said:

“She was caring. She was funny. She was clever. She was a beautiful dancer. She was a wonderful daughter. She was a good person. She had purpose in life. Lena wanted to do so much. Now all that is gone.”

NZ Herald reports that a pathologist counted 13 bruises and abrasions to Ms Harrap’s head, as well as blunt force trauma that caused brain injuries but was not fatal.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Nathan told the judge:

“This has a degree of sadism through the infliction of pain.”

Mr Sharma was arrested in September 2021 – two days after Ms Harrap’s murder.

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NZ Police tested the blood stains found on Mr Sharma’s pants and shoes and linked it to Ms Harrap.

NZ Police investigation also revealed that 24 hours earlier to Ms Harrap’s murder, Mr Sharma also reportedly violently drove past his white Hyundai on the footpath to try running over a 26-year-old woman who was jogging.

Police told the court:

“He swerved abruptly to the left, over the kerb and onto the footpath approximately five metres ahead of her. Mr Sharma’s entire car was on the footpath as he drove his car directly at [the woman] in an attempt to run her over. [She] ran to her right, onto the grass beside the footpath, to avoid being hit by Mr Sharma’s car.”

The woman went to the nearest house to call the police as Mr Sharma drove away.

She told the court that she was shocked to see a news article appealing for information about a car with the same licence plate as the man who stalked and attacked her.

“My immediate reaction was guilt, wondering if the collective grief in the world would be less if I had died.”

Mr Sharma’s lawyer Jonathan Hudson told the judge that his client had been living in his car after being evicted from emergency housing. he added that Mr Sharma is also suffering from schizophrenia.

In Mr Sharma’s case, Justice Edwin Wylie has set the minimum term of imprisonment for the mandatory life sentence.