Nightmare over for Kiwi's parents

Last updated 14:04 21/06/2012
Stefan Schmidt
STEFAN SCHMIDT: Guilty verdict.
Andy Marshall
ANDY MARSHALL: Was working in Perth as a tiler and musician.

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A clear message has been sent by the courts that violence is not acceptable, according to the heartbroken parents of a New Zealander killed in Perth.

Andy Marshall was out enjoying a night with mates last May when he was murdered by Stefan Pahia Schmidt, who pushed from a pub's second storey window to his death.

Yesterday, after a seven day trial, a Supreme Court of Western Australia jury found Schmidt, 26, guilty of murder.

When the verdict was read out Marshall's parents, Alan and Wendy, cried tears of relief.

They were in New Zealand when Andy was killed. Marshall was slain Feilding farmer Scott Guy's cousin. Guy's brother-in-law, Ewen Macdonald, is on trial in Wellington accused of his murder.

Marshall was killed a little under a year after Guy was found shot twice at the end of his driveway

Marshall was following his dream of becoming a professional musician in Australia, and had lived in Perth for two years as the drummer for local band, Rich Widow.

For the Marshalls, the last 13 months have been a nightmare.

But they travelled to Australia for the "harrowing" trial because "there is no other place we could be today".

"We came to find answers, to hear the details of his death and his final hours. It's been heartbreaking and difficult to listen to," Alan Marshall said.

"We knew it was going to be tough attending the trial and we weren't mistaken - it has been gruelling and harrowing, at times more than we could bear.

"We didn't come for relief or comfort - there wasn't much of that. We didn't come seeking closure or even justice. The truth for us is that there is no verdict or outcome that will bring Andy back to us.

"We don't want to be bitter and waste our energy on regrets and grudges. That would just be punishing ourselves over and over.

"But we do want to send a strong message that violence is unacceptable and intolerable.

"This act of violence is like a rock thrown on to a pond - the waves go out far and wide and it's not just one life that is destroyed. One life is one too many, but it's never just one life.

"If there is no accountability and no responsibility then there can be no change. We believe that message has been clear through the courts today."

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SHOCK AT VERDICT

It took just five hours for the jury to find Schmidt guilty of murder, rejecting less severe charges of manslaughter and unlawful assault causing death.

The mountain of a man broke down in tears as he was found guilty, seeming genuinely surprised at the verdict which could see him spend his life in prison.

Schmidt had not denied pushing Marshall the window of the Ocean Beach Hotel in Perth's upmarket coastal suburb of Cottesloe in May 2011, but had pleaded not guilty, saying the death was an accident as he only meant to push Marshall out of the way.

He broke down, holding his head in his hands and crying as the jury left the court.

A trained boxer and kickboxer, Schmidt had testified that Marshall got in his way at the pub as he tried to tell two girls he knew to "go home".

Marshall had been talking to the girls with his back to the window when Schmidt told him to "f*** off" and pushed him after Marshall allegedly said something in reply - words Schmidt could not remember.

Prosecutor Amanda Forrester, during her jury address, said any reasonable person - not to mention a former crowd controller with fight experience - would have known the dangers of pushing a man standing in front of a second-storey window.

Defence lawyer Tom Percy said both the victim and the accused were desperately unlucky.

If Schmidt had "intended any serious harm" to Marshall, "he would have smashed him", Percy said.

He also said that if the window had been safety glass "we wouldn't be here today".

Percy conceded Schmidt should not have fled the pub as Marshall lay dying on the footpath outside but he was "not on trial for showing a lack of compassion on the night".

Sentencing is scheduled for September.

Fairfax, with AAP

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