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Ex-cop Louis Mahony thought he’d got away with staging wife Lainie Coldwell’s murder

The scene at the Charleville house where Louis Mahony (inset) claimed his partner of 18 years fell from a ladder in 2009. Picture: Jamie Hanson

EVEN on the day he was arrested for murder, cocky ex-cop Louis Mahony was so confident he’d get off, he told officers they would soon be shouting him drinks to apologise.

For six years Mahony thought he had fooled the world after ruthlessly disposing of an inconvenient wife.

He’d staged the scene to make it appear that Lainie Coldwell, his defacto wife of 18 years, had fallen from a ladder at their Charleville home on August 23, 2009.

It convinced the country cops, who didn’t realise they were staring at the murder weapon – a bloody antique iron lying among rocks where Lainie supposedly fell and struck her head.

Mahony thought his dreams were in reach – he had Lainie’s multimillion-dollar life insurance policies to cash in.

Lainie Coldwell with husband Louis Mahony and their young daughter, who was three when her mother was murdered.

He was also free to pursue the foreign women on 457 visas at the local abattoir, where he worked after leaving his former career as a Northern Territory police officer.

The flies in the ointment were detectives from the state’s homicide squad, brought in to reinvestigate the case years after Lainie’s supposed freak accident.

“He said to me, ‘Renee, one day when this is all over, you are going to buy me a beer and apologise for what you’ve done to me’,” Detective Renee Hoile recalls of the day she arrested Mahony in December 2015.

Mahony’s prediction was proved spectacularly wrong last week, when he was convicted of killing Lainie, the mother of his young daughter.

With the 43-year-old sentenced to life imprisonment, the inside story of his downfall can now be told by the detectives who brought him to justice.

Detective Acting Sergeant Renee Hoile and Detective Inspector Damien Hansen, who broke the case open. Picture: Jamie Hanson

They revealed how a calculating and “narcissistic” Mahony initially researched car crashes and poisons before deciding to stage a fatal fall. He spent the day of his wife’s funeral planning a romantic getaway with a lover.

It’s hard to escape comparisons with Queensland’s other egotistical wife-killer, Gerard Baden-Clay, who murdered wife Allison in 2012 and thought he could escape justice.

In both cases, the accused was involved with other women and stood to benefit from large insurance payouts. And in both, the women standing in the way of a life of ease and fortune ended up dead.

Interestingly, insurers were the first to raise the alarm about Mahony. About two weeks after Lainie died, they contacted Charleville police to report they had more than a passing interest in the case.

Two life insurance policies worth a whopping $2.25 million had been taken out in Lainie’s name in the two months before her death. Suspicions were so grave, the company refused to pay out the policies.

The blood-stained antique iron that Mahony used to kill his wife.

Mahony arrives at court in Charleville for his committal hearing.

The blood-stained antique iron that Mahony used to kill his wife.

In 2009, it had been Mahony who made the triple-0 call, saying he found Lainie unconscious in a puddle of blood at the base of a large gum tree. She must have fallen taking down party lights in the tree, he said.

Lainie, 36, was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital, with Mahony by her side. Her family made the agonising decision to turn off her life support system and donate her organs.

At the scene, a rusted and bloodied antique iron lying among rocks at the base of the tree was photographed but not collected. It has not been found since. It is now believed Mahony used the iron to deliver a fatal blow to the back of his wife’s head.

In a tragic series of failings, a lone detective in Charleville made little headway before moving away, leaving the case to stagnate.

Local sergeant Gerard Thornton always had his suspicions and tried to pursue the investigation between other duties before calling in Brisbane-based homicide detectives in early 2013.

The case had an unusual complication. Because Lainie’s organs were donated, an autopsy had not been conducted. So, Detective Hoile and colleague Karen Murray set about contacting the medical specialists brought in from hospitals around the southeast to work on the organ donation process.

They confirmed that Lainie’s only significant injury was a single blow to the back of her head.

Lainie had supposedly fallen at least five metres from a ladder propped on the tray of Mahony’s ute.

“There were no ribs broken, no other organs injured,” said Detective Inspector Damien Hansen, who manages the homicide squad.

Photographs from the scene showed blood had inexplicably seeped onto the flat of the iron, which had been face down on rocks at the tree’s base. Strands of Lainie’s blonde hair were clearly visible amid blood on the underside.

As part of the original investigation, police had seized and held Mahony’s laptop. When computer expert James Morris, a civilian from the Queensland Police electronic evidence examination unit, inspected the computer, he struck gold.

Crime scene photo of the ladder balanced on the back of Mahony’s ute

Tributes at the base of the tree near where Lainie’s body was found.

Before Lainie’s death, Mahony had Googled terms including poisoning, car crashes, head injuries and forensic science. After her death, he was back online organising his love life.

“He’s searching Gold Coast limousines and Dracula’s Restaurant, and the Marriott Hotel on the Gold Coast. That’s leading up to the funeral and on the day of her funeral,” Detective Hoile says.

For a cop with an intimate understanding of police procedures, Mahony made plenty of mistakes.

In his triple-0 call, he twice said Lainie was face down.

“That’s not possible if the injury is to the back of the head,” Detective Hoile says.

Call records to insurers showed that before his wife’s death, Mahony had asked whether they would pay out if someone died in a car crash but wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. And compromising videos of Mahony and a Korean co-worker were found on his laptop.

Lainie was aware of Mahony’s affairs and made it known that she was leaving him and taking their daughter, Dakota, then three.

Three years after he murdered his wife – while still a free man – Mahony remarried a wealthy divorcee. She continued to raise Dakota when Mahony was arrested in 2015, and she stood by him through his trial.

To this day, Detective Hoile is struck by Mahony’s lack of remorse in robbing Dakota of a mother.

“There was never a time in my discussions with him where he ever displayed emotion when he was talking about her. If there was any emotion, it was about him,” she said.

www.clublibido.com.au

Arranged marriages are a standard practice in Pakistan and there’s no shortage of stories about the extreme steps some Pakistani women will take to escape them and marry the men they choose.

But few go as far as Aasia Bibi is alleged to have gone.

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According to Pakistani authorities, the 21-year-old woman tried to slip poison into her new husband’s milk and inadvertently killed 17 of his family members in the process.

Bibi, who is charged with murder, appeared in court on Tuesday in the north-eastern city of Muzaffargarh, where she told reporters that her parents had forced her in September to marry a relative, Associated Press and ITV reported.

Her family live in nearby Ali Pur, a small village in eastern Pakistan.

“I repeatedly asked my parents not to marry me against my will as my religion, Islam, also allows me to choose the man of my choice for marriage, but my parents rejected all of my pleas,” AP quoted Bibi as saying.

She told them that she was willing to do anything to get out of the marriage, she added, but they refused to permit a divorce, ITV reported.

Desperate to get out of the arrangement, Bibi went to her boyfriend, Shahid Lashari, who gave her a “poisonous substance”, local police chief Sohail Habib Tajak told AP.

Last week, Tajak said, Bibi mixed the poison in milk and gave it to her husband, but he refused to drink it.

At some point after – and it’s not exactly clear how – Bibi’s mother-in-law used the tainted milk to make lassi, a yogurt-based drink popular in south Asia. When she served it to 27 members of her extended family, all of them lost consciousness and were taken to hospital.

Bibi and Lashari were arrested and charged with murder shortly after. Neither had lawyers, AP reported.

Seventeen of her intended husband’s family members have reportedly died in the past several days, including one young girl, and the other 10 are still in the hospital.

Bibi denied the allegations against her, saying Lashari told her to poison the milk, but she refused.

But in Tuesday’s court hearing, Bibi told reporters that she had in fact targeted her husband and regretted that others had died, according to AP.

Her boyfriend, she said, “asked me to mix it in something” and give it to the husband. He “said he will marry me”, she told a judge, according to ITV.

Tajak said he spent two weeks questioning Bibi and Lashari trying to find out who was responsible. Lashari had confessed to giving the young woman the poison, he said.

“Our officers have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murder case, which was complicated and challenging for us,” Tajak told AP.

The Washington Post

www.mylove-au.com

Henry Sapiecha

 

In 1887, New York State appointed three men to evaluate many possible ways to execute a man—which they did in disturbing detail.

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Government reports rarely make for stimulating reading. That’s because most government reports aren’t about throwing people off a cliff or clubbing them to death.

In 1887, the state of New York published what became popularly known as the Gerry Commission Report. This is one piece of bureaucratic prose that is neither dull nor boring. In fact, it may be among the most macabre and gruesome in the annals of American writing.

And it was important. The ramifications of this execution encyclopedia—officially titled “The Commission to Investigate and Report the Most Humane and Practical Method of Carrying into Effect the Sentence of Death in Capital Cases”—echo still in the courts and prisons of America.

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People implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln await execution by hanging, 1865.

34 Ways to Die

Three men wrote the Gerry report. There was Elbridge Gerry of New York, grandson of another Elbridge Gerry who signed the Declaration of Independence and became the fifth vice president of the United States. There was Matthew Hale, grandson of Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War patriot who famously regretted he had but one life to give for his country. And there was Alfred Southwick, a Buffalo dentist who was the grandson of nobody particularly famous. In 1887, the New York State Legislature appointed this trio to a committee charged with examining all the ways New York State could put condemned felons to death and recommending the best way to do so.

Elbridge Gerry-execution-report image www.crimefiles.net

From colonial times, hanging had been the official form of lawful execution in New York State, but by the 1880s, there was a growing sentiment among New Yorkers that it was barbaric practice. Indeed, there were far too many newspaper stories of hangings gone bad: broken ropes requiring hurried do-overs, incorrectly measured drops resulting in decapitation, and men slowly strangling to death instead of instantly breaking their necks. Such goings-on might be acceptable on the western frontier, but New York prided itself on being the most cosmopolitan and sophisticated state in the Union. There must be a more forward-thinking way to execute a person, it presumed.

Marching orders in hand, the three men catalogued every conceivable method in which the state could dispatch a person from this mortal realm. Then they comprehensively examined the merits of each. The resulting Gerry Commission report is full of lively writing and lurid anecdotes.

In all, the commission evaluated 34 different methods of execution, listing them in alphabetical order. Some methods were described in a single paragraph, while others—which presumably the authors found more interesting—took several pages to illustrate. They are:

  1. Auto da fe (burning to death for heresy)
  2. Beating with clubs
  3. Beheading
  4. Blowing from a cannon
  5. Boiling (“Usually in hot water but sometimes in melted sulfur, lead or the like.”)
  6. Breaking on the wheel
  7. Burning
  8. Burying alive
  9. Crucifixion
  10. Decimation (a military punishment for mutineers)
  11. Dichotomy (cutting a person in half)
  12. Dismemberment (like dichotomy but even messier)
  13. Drowning
  14. Exposure to wild beasts
  15. Flaying
  16. Flogging
  17. Garrote (strangling with a cord)
  18. Guillotine
  19. Hanging
  20. Hari Kari
  21. Impalement
  22. Iron Maiden (A machine in the image of the Virgin Mary equipped with spring loaded knives)
  23. Peine forte et dure (placing heavy weights to stop breathing)
  24. Poisoning
  25. Pounding in a mortar (like it sounds)
  26. Precipitation (throwing from a cliff)
  27. Pressing to death
  28. Rack
  29. Running the gauntlet (being made to walk between two lines of men, each of whom has a club.)
  30. Shooting
  31. Stabbing
  32. Stoning
  33. Strangling
  34. Suffocation

The commission did not pull punches in their descriptions of capital punishment. In their analysis of beheading, they provide numerous examples from England, France, China, and Japan.

“(In Japan) the prisoner’s arms were pinioned behind his back. He raised a weak quavering voice to its highest pitch and screamed out, ‘My friends!’ Immediately an unearthly chorus of wails answered the poor wretch from his friends outside the walls. This was followed by ‘Syonara!’ All was ready; the word was given. Without raising his weapon more than a foot above the neck of the condemned, the executioner brought down his heavy blade with an audible thud.”

It gets more morbid. Under the heading of burning they relate:

“An extraordinary method of this punishment was known as ‘the illuminated body’ and invented by Sefi II, Shah of Persia. The victim was stretched on a slab and fastened to it. Innumerable little holes were bored all over his body. These were filled with oil, and all lighted together. The poor victim perished in the most unspeakable agony.”

Some methods are so bizarre that they seem almost risible, at least at a far remove of time and distance. The commission studied the method of execution they called “blowing from a cannon” based on its contemporary use in the East Indian army, whose soldiers were called “Sepoys.” Apparently, there were two ways for doing this. The report states that “the insurgent Sepoy, lashed to the cannon’s mouth, within two second of pulling the trigger, was blown in 10,000 atoms.” Alternatively, the “living body of the offender is thrust into the cannon, forming, as one might say, part of the charge.”

One of the oddest punishments explored was number 25, pounding in a mortar. In Proverbs 27:22, the Bible reads, “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” This biblical passage evidently prompted a religious Gerry Commission member to consider “pounding in mortar” as a possible method of serving the death sentence. Presumably, this procedure would involve the condemned being placed in a large mortar or similar vessel and then pounded with an enormous pestle. This is much like what happens when one prepares a mint julep, except a condemned prisoner is substituted for the mint leaves.

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Henry Sapiecha

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