Man murders ex in courthouse custody stabbing
A MAN who killed his ex-partner by repeatedly stabbing her at a Perth court complex has been found guilty of murdering the mother-of-two.
Paul Gary Turner, 43, smuggled a knife into a pre-trial conference with Sarah Marie Thomas, 33, at Joondalup Justice Complex in December 2016 and stabbed her six times, including three times in the neck.
Turner was convicted in the Supreme Court of Western Australia yesterday, drawing gasps from his supporters in the public gallery.
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One of the stabs cut the 33-year-old's carotid artery, which killed her within seconds.
Turner told the Supreme Court of WA on Wednesday that after he had an accident while working as a truck driver in 2015, he suffered symptoms including constant intense headaches and seizures that caused blackouts.
He claimed he had no memory of what occurred when he blacked out.
The pair were embroiled in a custody dispute in the days leading up to the attack and were meeting with a registrar at the Joondalup complex over Turner's separate claim Ms Thomas owed him money.
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Solicitor Ann Maude, who represented Ms Thomas in the family court matters, said the pair had initially agreed to split custody roughly equally, but her client then reduced his access.
This was for a variety of reasons including his "increasing erratic behaviour", Ms Maude said.
Turner told the court he agreed to the revised arrangements under duress when Ms Thomas had refused to hand back the children for several days. "I was stressed about my children. I was concerned for their welfare," he said.
Turner claimed his children had told him stories about staying with their maternal grandparents, and one of them started "dry heaving" when he informed them on the morning of the killing that they'd have to return. Defence counsel Lisa Boston asked what happened next.
"I don't remember," Turner replied.
He said the next thing he recalled was being at a police station. "I remember looking at my hands and they're covered in blood," Turner said, crying.
After the lawyer asked how the family court matters had affected him, he replied: "It was pretty hard".
"I love my kids.
"The whole situation was stressful and it didn't need to be." The jury was shown a letter Ms Thomas wrote to a doctor about Turner's symptoms, saying she believed he'd suffered head injuries and would be "off with the fairies" for up to 40 seconds at a time.
Turner said his seizures usually lasted 10-20 seconds but sometimes more than 45 minutes.
He claimed he once found himself at the shops in different clothes to what he had been wearing, holding bought items, and could not remember how he got there. In Ms Thomas' letter, she said her partner of eight years could be short-tempered, especially with the children.
Turner earlier admitted that in the mid-2000s, he had trained in lethal commando weapons techniques up to three days a week for about three years, learning how to swiftly kill by cutting various arteries, including the carotid.