Mum’s heartache as son’s killer receives parole eligibility
"IT HAS been absolutely traumatic," the mother of slain Andrew Vesey-Brown said outside the Rockhampton Courthouse, after her son's killer received a nine year sentence for manslaughter.
Anthony Lee Smits pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Vesey-Brown before the Rockhampton Supreme Court today.
Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips described the fatal night of July 10, 2017.
Mr Phillips told the court Smits, 29 at the time, had attended Mr Vesey-Brown's home where he lived with his girlfriend of six months.
Smits had suggested the deceased had been informing on a mutual friend and together they went searching for the friend.
They returned to the Auckland Street townhouse and Smits suddenly left.
A few minutes later Mr Vesey-Brown went upstairs where his girlfriend was preparing dinner and raised his shirt to reveal a stab wound.
He asked her to call for help but did not identify his attacker.
Mr Vesey-Brown went back downstairs where he collapsed and fell.
The fatal injury caused by a single stab to his chest by a bladed instrument went 18cm deep and caused him to internally bleed to death.
The court was told Smits had gone to another friend's house after, where he changed shirts and said to one friend it had "turned to s---" and he was "unlikely to see his friend" again.
Smits took a cab which landed him in hospital where he was arrested.
He was taken into custody from July 11 where he remained until the sentencing date.
Mr Phillips told the court Smits, now 33, had a criminal history of violence from when he was 17.
Defence barrister Tom Polley said his client had grown up in a good home environment in Mount Isa however fell into a "poor peer group" from the age of 15.
Mr Polley said Smits had used marijuana from 15 and turned to amphetamines at 16.
This eventuated into meth use in his early 20s which Mr Polley said had dictated his client's behaviour ever since.
He told the court that on the night of the offence Smits and others were coming down from meth and other substances which explained his erratic behaviour.
Mr Polley said there was no intent to do ill or cause grievous bodily harm.
"This was a fleeting event, albeit one with dire consequences," Mr Polley said.
Upon release, Smits planned to move to an area in regional Queensland with the support of a family member.
Justice Ann Lyons told Smits by his guilty plea he had accepted he had done the act which had killed his friend, although it was not intended.
"You have to live with the fact for the rest of your life, you know you took the life of another man," Justice Lyons said.
"That will weigh heavily on you in years to come and it should."
Justice Lyons said the deceased left behind two young girls and a devastated family, relying on victim impact statements from Kylee Slater - Mr Vesey-Brown's mother - and the mother of the children.
She told Smits he now had a choice to make the most of the support from his family and abstain from drugs or he could continue taking drugs and he would likely be back in custody.
Justice Lyons sentenced Smits to nine years imprisonment with immediate parole eligibility, taking into account three years and five months served in pre-sentence custody.
Outside the courthouse Ms Slater described the devastating impact the offence had on her family.
"I've got little kids who don't understand, I've got big kids who don't understand," Ms Slater said.
"(The children) come to my place and they sit down there and they actually talk to an urn because they told them that daddy is in heaven and he's creating wishes."
She said she did not believe the sentence was fair.
"He gets to go home and he gets to see his family," she said.
"He gets to go and live a new life and have family support and become a better person so he says."
She said the offence was not fair on Smits' family either.
"There's no remorse there," she said.
"His family has had to live through that, it's not fair.
Smits' mother outside the courthouse said she had mixed emotions.
"I'm there for my son, I was crying for her son as well," she said.
"I just gave his mother a hug; I told her how sorry I was.
"We think about her family, I'll always think about her family."