Chilean backpacker stab accused offers plea to lesser charge
PROSECUTORS are waiting to speak to a Chilean woman stabbed in a Cairns hostel before considering a submission from the alleged offender to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
Constanza "Kuki" Escudero, 26, was considered millimetres from death when she was stabbed through the neck in the kitchen of a Bunda St hostel on August 5 last year, just days into a dream Australian holiday.
The alleged offender, Northern Territory man Raynard Gregory Moodoonuthi, 36, who was working as a part-time cleaner at the hostel, was charged with attempted murder.
The Cairns Supreme Court heard yesterday Mr Moodoonuthi's defence barrister, Tim Graw, had made a submission that he was prepared to plead guilty to grievous bodily harm.
Attempted murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, while the highest penalty for grievous bodily harm is 14 years.
Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said he was currently inclined not to accept the lower charge, but would speak to Ms Escudero.
She returned to Chile soon after the alleged attack and continues to undergo medical treatment.
If the lower charge was not accepted and the matter proceeded to trial, Ms Escudero would likely need to return to Australia to give evidence.
"She was a backpacker at the time, she has indicated a willingness to return," he said.
"I haven't had the chance to speak to her about the issues, flights, the trial process, how this might be avoided."
The case was adjourned until March 23.