News

Man found guilty of stabbing manslaughter of cousin

BREAKING: John Henry Brown, 33, has been found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of his cousin Caroline Widgell, 28, in Toowoomba in July 2013.

Brown will be sentenced tomorrow morning.

EARLIER: Murder accused John Henry Brown's defence counsel has invited the jury in his murder trial to return a verdict of manslaughter.

 Brown, 33, has pleaded not guilty to murder arising from the death of his cousin Caroline Widgell, 28, who was stabbed in the chest at a Seppelt St address in Wilsonton Heights just after 9pm, July 4, 2013.  

In his closing address today, defence barrister Robbie Davies told the jury it was not in dispute that his client had caused Ms Widgell's wound.  

What was at issue was whether he intended to kill his cousin.  

Mr Davies said if there was any rational hypothesis consistent with innocence, the jury must acquit his client of murder.  

"What he is guilty of, ladies and gentlemen, is manslaughter," Mr Davies submitted to the jury.  

Crown prosecutor Mark Whitbread argued that by the evidence put before the trial John Brown had intended to kill Ms Widgell or at least cause her grievous bodily harm.  

Brown had been staying nearby at a Lindemann Crt home of his cousin and had arrived on foot at the Seppelt St residence and went straight to the back yard where Ms Widgell and others were gathered.  

After calling her away to the front yard where the pair was alone, he had stabbed her "one quick and sudden blow to the chest", Mr Whitbread said, submitted what other intention had he had but death.  

Ms Widgell had turned away and walked back to the house, telling her cousin, "John stabbed me, Cuz".  

At the close of the Crown case this morning, Mr Davies made a defence admission that a steak knife found in the front yard soon after the incident had blood on its blade that was DNA matched to Ms Widgell.  

Mr Whitbread submitted similar steak knives were found in the kitchen drawer at Lindemann Crt where Brown had been staying, suggesting he had taken the knife to the Seppelt St address, also suggesting intent.  

Brown had left the scene after the incident and was found later that night in Wine Drive Park not far away, he said.

 When challenged by police, Brown had immediately fallen to his knees and put his hands behind his head, telling police "Just put me in jail", Mr Whitbread submitted.  

During a subsequent police interview, Brown had told a detective "I killed my cousin, does that mean anything", he said.  

Forensic pathologist Dr Nathan Milne who conducted the autopsy told the court Ms Widgell had a wound 4.3cm left of the middle of the chest which was 16mm in length by 7mm in width.  

He estimated the depth of the stabbing wound to be about 7cm between the third and forth rib.  

He estimated the degree of force to cause such a wound to be "as little as mild".  

The jury will retire to consider a verdict after summing up of the case by Justice Peter Lyons.  

EARLIER: A jury charged with determining whether a Wilsonton Heights man murdered his cousin more than three years ago is expected to begin verdict deliberations this afternoon.

The Crown has closed its case against John Henry Brown who has pleaded not guilty to murdering his cousin, Caroline Widgell, in Wilsonton Heights in 2013.

The jury will hear closing addresses from the Crown and Brown's defence counsel which were expected to begin about 11.30am.

The jury is expected to retire to consider its verdict this afternoon.

The trial, before Justice Peter Lyons, began on Monday.

Topics:  court editors picks murder toowoomba toowoomba court


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