LIONEL Patea has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal killing of his ex-girlfriend Tara Brown on a suburban Gold Coast street. Queensland Australia
Earlier, the court heard Patea had ordered his aunt — the mother of singer Ricki-Lee Coulter — to deny Tara Brown access to their child in the days before he brutally killed his ex-girlfriend. A court has also heard Patea phoned the child’s daycare centre to ask one question before carrying out his brutal slaying.
Coulter’s mother, Loretta Sheerin, was babysitting Ms Brown’s young daughter in the days before she was killed.
Patea has pleaded guilty to Ms Brown’s murder and will be sentenced in the Brisbane Supreme Court this afternoon.
The court was told during sentencing submissions this morning that Patea commanded his aunt, named in court as Ms Sheerin, not to let Ms Brown see their child while he was in Gladstone for work.
But Ms Sheerin allowed Ms Brown to stay the night and visit the child.
In the days following, Ms Brown applied for domestic violence and child custody orders and was living in a safe house away from the Gold Coast.
On September 6, she returned to the Gold Coast to stay with a friend and was looking for a rental home to “get her life back in order”.
Interim custody orders with Patea were finalised soon after, and the court was told they were served on Patea’s lawyer on September 7.
About 8am the next the day, Patea phoned Aria’s childcare and asked if she would be attending today.
“It was confirmed that she was,” crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC said.
Patea chased Ms Brown as she drove away from the daycare, ran her off the road and bashed her to death.
Justice Debra Mullins will hand down her sentence from 2.30pm.
EARLIER: Triple 0 call reveals horror of Tara’s death
LIONEL Patea has pleaded guilty to the murder of his former girlfriend Tara Brown.
Ms Brown, 24, died after Patea ran her off the road in a suburban Gold Coast street in September, 2015.
As she lay trapped in the car, Patea viciously beat her with a cast-iron water hydrant cover.
Ms Brown had just dropped their daughter, Aria, off at childcare when the shocking attack unfolded.
Patea entered guilty pleas to murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and unlawful use of a motor vehicle shortly after 10am this morning, before his trial was scheduled to start.
Gold Coast lawyer Campbell MacCallum made a statement outside court on behalf is his client.
In the statement, Patea said he accepted “full responsibility” for his actions.
“I do this with the full support of my family who have encouraged me in my decision to face up to my actions and provide closure for the Brown family,” Mr MacCallum read.
“I do not want to cause Tara’s family further pain.
“I accept without hesitation the punishment imposed upon me by the justice system.”
Earlier, in court, Ms Brown’s mother Natalie Hinton wept as Patea was brought into the dock wearing a navy suit, white shirt and black tie.
It is understood Ms Brown made a harrowing Triple 0 call before her death, which was to be a key piece of evidence in the trial.
The young mum suffered critical head injuries and died the next day in hospital.
Patea’s sentencing hearing has begun, with evidence heard of the brave witnesses who attempted to stop Patea’s brutal actions.
One man, who lived in a nearby home, had helped Patea to get into the car after he ran Ms Brown off the road, believing he was trying to help her. He couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.
Crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC has told the court Patea began beating Ms Brown with the cover of a water hydrant
Ms Brown was on the phone to Triple 0 at the time and the attack was recorded.
Mr Heaton said 16 “thumps” are heard on the audio, and then a female witness can be heard saying: “what the f**k are you doing”.
There are another 13 “thumps”, Mr Heaton said, “followed by silence”.
The female witness jumped on Patea’s back at one stage and later stood between him and Ms Brown as she lay trapped in the car and told him to “piss off”.
The male witness had tried to pull him from Ms Brown and phone police, to no avail.
Her death sent shockwaves through the nation, and that grief was compounded when just two days later a Karina Lock was murdered by her husband at the Helensvale McDonald’s.
The domestic violence murders sparked calls from the community for the State Government to act.
National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800 RESPECT.
In an emergency call triple-zero.