Charge/s: Murder x 2.
Appeal Type: Appeal against sentence.
Facts: The 60 year old appellant murdered his former partner, 31 year old Meagan Wilton, and her new partner, 34 year old Benjamin Eyles, by shooting them with a shotgun. The appellant and Ms Wilton had a 21 month old son together, and Ms Wilton had two other girls, aged 12 and 9. Ms Wilton’s youngest daughter and the appellant’s son were in the house at the time of the murders. After leaving the premises, the appellant tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. He suffered brain damage, lost the ability to walk, and required visual and hearing aids. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 25 years.
Issue/s: Whether the sentence was manifestly excessive.Decision and Reasoning: The appeal was dismissed. Estcourt J provided the lead judgment, with Blow CJ and Brett J agreeing but providing additional comments. Relevantly, Blow CJ stated that while the punishment here was significant and that there were a number of mitigating factors in the circumstances, these carried little weight in light of the aggravating factors of this case. As per His Honour: ‘[t]hese were deliberate killings. They were premeditated. They were motivated by vindictiveness towards a former partner’ (see ). Moreover, ‘[t]his was a case in which the impact of the killings on survivors [was] particularly significant’. The children who were present in the house could suffer long-term psychological or psychiatric consequences (see ). Further, the impact of the crime would be felt by family members raising the children, and police officers who worked on this case.