South Korean man who murdered neighbour over blocked sunlight dispute gets 23 years in jail

A man in South Korea has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for murdering his elderly neighbour following a dispute over a tree that blocked sunlight from reaching his solar panels.

The Supreme Court upheld the sentence, which also mandated that the man wear an electronic tracking device for 10 years.

The conflict began years ago in Cheorwon county, Gangwon province, when the victim planted a peach tree that later grew and blocked the sunlight from reaching the solar panels of the defendant, identified only as Mr. A.

On the day of the incident in April last year, an argument over the tree led Mr. A to attack his 70-year-old neighbour with a weapon, also injuring the victim’s wife who tried to intervene.

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Mr. A was also charged with drink-driving. After committing the murder, he drove his car a distance of about 2.7km (1.6 mile) while intoxicated, later exiting his vehicle and repeatedly shouting, “I have killed a person,” until a passer-by called the police.

In court, Mr. A claimed diminished responsibility due to intoxication and argued for leniency based on his attempt to surrender to the authorities.

He contended that by asking bystanders to call the police before he was arrested on a nearby road, he was effectively turning himself in. He also stated that he had not intended to injure the victim’s wife.

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The first trial dismissed Mr. A’s claims, citing his history of violent crimes and drink-driving, and sentenced him to 26 years in prison.

The appellate court later reduced the sentence to 23 years, a reflection of Mr. A’s eventual confession and remorseful behaviour. The Supreme Court found no fault with the appeal court’s decision and dismissed the final appeal.

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