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Kansas man escapes jail for attempted murder of wife because of family's Hindu culture

Family’s Hindu culture deemed “very significant” by judge sentencing man for stabbing his wife

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 30 August 2016 13:26 BST

A US motel owner who stabbed his wife twice in the abdomen and pleaded guilty to attempted murder has been spared a prison sentence, in part because the judge took into account the family's Hindu culture.

Navinkumar Patel, 46, reportedly stabbed his wife with a pocketknife as she ate a bowl of cereal, and subsequently told police he had done it because his wife was overweight.

The court in Lawrence, Kansas, heard that Mr Patel suffers from bipolar disorder which is exacerbated by alcohol addiction.

More than a dozen family members, including his wife, appeared in court to support him, while others wrote letters to Douglas County District Court Judge Robert Fairchild asking for a lenient sentence.

Mr Patel’s attorney, John Kerns, called the case “unusual to say the least”.

According to local newspaper the Lawrence Journal World, Mr Kerns told the judge that in the Hindu culture of Patel's family, his wife and children would also suffer if he were sentenced to prison. They would essentially be “ostracised”, he said.

Two of Mr Patels cousins addressed the court, saying that he was a loving husband and that the violent outburst was the first of its kind.

Judge Fairchild said: “The cultural part of it is very significant in this case,” adding that he did not want a prison sentence for Mr Patel to further harm the family.

Instead, Mr Patel was sentenced to serve probation, but was ordered to remain in jail until a plan is established to help prevent a repeat offence.

Mr Patel’s family said they were willing to ensure he remains sober and follows a strict medication schedule.

Addressing the family, Judge Fairchild said: “It’s going to take a community to make his sobriety stick.

“You cannot accept the fact that just because he's clean now he's going to stay that way.”

The judge also said that though the conviction carries a presumptive prison sentence, the law allows him to depart from those guidelines in the case of a “substantial and compelling reason”.

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