Father - forever in grief
The father of a former Feilding man who was killed after being pushed through a Perth bar window says he will carry the loss of his son for the rest of his life.
Australian man Stefan Schmidt was sent to jail for nine years after being found guilty yesterday of the manslaughter of Andy Marshall, but not guilty of his murder, after a 10-day judge-alone trial in Western Australia's Supreme Court.
Schmidt was initially convicted of murder in 2012 and given a life sentence, with a minimum jail term of 14 years, for pushing Marshall through the second storey window of Cottesloe's Ocean Beach Hotel on May 8, 2011.
But three West Australian Court of Appeal judges unanimously determined in August last year that Schmidt would face a retrial, with Justice Michael Buss saying he could have been found guilty of manslaughter instead.
Schmidt offered to plead guilty to manslaughter at the beginning of the retrial, but prosecutors rejected the plea deal. In his victim impact statement, Marshall's father Alan said his life had changed forever. Words like "traumatised" and "heartbreaking" failed to describe his feelings. "It is beyond words and beyond pain," he told the court.
When he heard the news of his son's death, he thought the victim had been mistakenly identified, but his hopes were crushed when a detective confirmed he had his son's phone. "I will carry his loss for the remainder of my days."
Andy Marshall's mother Wendy also read her statement to the court.
She held back tears as she described her overwhelming loss.
"My heart is broken."
Marshall is a cousin of slain Feilding farmer Scott Guy, who was shot in his driveway in 2010.
Outside the court, Alan Marshall said the family respected the decision but did not agree with it.
"He was convicted of murder once and to us that's what it is," he said. "But there is no judge in the world who is going to bring him back to our lives, and it would have been a mistake to come out here with the expectation of finding closure."
They had hoped for a longer sentence, but would try to move on and rebuild their lives without Andy, he said. "The last few weeks have been another tough and heartbreaking experience for our family," he said.
In his judgment, Justice John Roderick McKechnie said there was little in dispute. Since Schmidt had wanted to plead guilty to manslaughter, he had admitted unlawfully causing Marshall's death. The only issue was if Schmidt acted with the intent to cause injury that would, or was likely to, endanger Marshall's life.
The prosecution had argued Schmidt was angry because Marshall had been talking to women the accused thought should not have been at the bar.
But the judge decided that, while Schmidt was angry, he was only going to tell the women to go home.
"The accused's actions are consistent with treating the deceased as a collateral impediment and shoving him - obviously with far too much force - out of the way."
While pushing someone through a glass window to the street was obviously going to have dangerous consequences, the judge said there was a reasonable doubt that Schmidt did not consider the consequences at the time.