Young refugee from warn torn Sierra Leone sentenced for threatening police

LACONIA — The local man who was found guilty of two counts of threatening to assault a city police officer and members of his family was sentenced yesterday in Belknap County Superior Court to serve 1 1/2 to 3 years in the New Hampshire State Prison, with a second sentence of 1 1/2 to 3 years suspended on the condition of good behavior.
Abdul Kamara, 21, who last known address was 4 Hill St., was one of two men involved in an altercation with police the resulted in one police officer getting a broken nose. Stephen Johnstone, 21, is charged with the assault on the officer and has yet to stand trial.
In his sentencing memorandum, attorney Charles Temple of the UNH School of Law Criminal Practice Clinic asked for two consecutive sentences of 12 months each — one suspended — in the Belknap County House of Corrections.
In his argument he said Kamara was born in in 1989 in Sierra Leone, a country in the throes of a civil war that, according to the BBC, was marked by atrocities include rebels whose trademark was to hack off the hands and feet of their victims.
When he was two, Kamara was separated from his parents and lived for the next eight years in a refugee camp where Temple said he was the target of sexual abuse. He was also a witness to the sexual abuse of his younger sister.
Sierra Leone is on the West Coast of Africa and is rich in minerals including so-called "blood diamonds." Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor was convicted in The Hague in 2012 for aiding and abetting war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war.
"The first 10 years of Abdul's life where characterized by extreme poverty, hunger, abuse, and terror," wrote Temple. "He lived in a hell where there was a lack of food, no running water limited sanitation and extreme violence."
Temple said Kamara was 10, he and his two sisters came to Laconia through a sponsorship of the First Baptist Church. He said a local family took Kamara and his two sisters into their home and he thrived, excelling in school and various sports.
When Kamara's older sister moved the family to Virginia, Kamara, according to Temple, was devastated because he was in middle school and the move took him from his life in Laconia. Temple said Kamara was forced to start all over again and fell in with the wrong group of students in Virginia that ultimately led to convictions in 2007 for larceny and assault.
He was released from jail after serving four months but was detained by U.S. Immigration until 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. AFter his release he went to Virginia, transferred his probation to New Hampshire, and returned to Laconia where he graduated from Laconia High School in 2009.
Temple proposed sentences in the Belknap County House of Corrections because he said the purpose of incarceration was rehabilitation and during the 147 days  Kamara has spent in the Belknap County Jail awaiting sentencing, he has had "ample opportunity to reflect on his criminal behavior following the car stop in September of 2012 that led to his arrest and conviction.
"He is ashamed, remorseful, and embarrassed by this inexcusable conduct," wrote Temple on behalf of Kamara.
In handing down Kamara's sentence, Judge James O'Neill III ruled that Kamara was eligible to apply for a sentence rehearing at a future date.