Bikie’s excuse for shooting partner dead
REBELS Outlaw Motorcycle Club bikie Brandon Osborn was "in the shits" on the day he put a loaded gun to his girlfriend's forehead and pulled the trigger.
The 37-year-old had argued with Karen Belej on May 1, 2016, at their home near Mildura in Victoria's northwest.
When the White Ribbon ambassador arrived home and started preparing dinner shortly after 7pm, she noticed Osborn had brought a recently-purchased revolver into their home. Upset, she told him to get rid of it. But he didn't.
Instead, he emptied the revolver of all but one bullet. He spun the cylinder, pointed it at Ms Belej's head and fired one shot that exited through the back of her skull and wedged into a kitchen cabinet.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
It sounds like an open-and-shut murder but is anything but. Osborn claimed successfully that he didn't mean to kill his partner. His excuse: he thought the chamber was empty.
On Thursday in the Victorian Court of Appeal, judges upheld a sentence that could see him walk free from prison by 2022.
Two of three judges rejected prosecutors' bid for a longer jail term. Osborn will continue to serve his original nine-year sentence with a minimum of six years.
'IT'S JUST A STUPID F***IN' THING'
On the night of her death, Ms Belej's body was found slumped on the kitchen floor. The gun that was used to kill her was between her feet.
In a police interview after he was arrested, Osborn claimed "we'd both been drinking and she - we had - she had the shits all day".
He said she noticed the gun and told him to put it back in the shed. As he walked past her on the way out, he claims she told him: "I might as well use it on myself now".
He took out five bullets, spun the chamber and checked the left-hand side, noting it was empty. He told police he believed the chamber would rotate clockwise.
"You thought the revolver was safe," an investigator asked him.
"Yeah, I pulled the trigger," he said.
"So what was your intention at that stage?"
"I dunno why. I dunno why I did it."
The investigator asked him which direction he believed the cylinder would rotate.
"I don't know. I always thought it was clockwise 'cause everything moves clockwise. Every mechanic device known to man moves clockwise."
He said it was "a stupid f***in' thing" that cost his girlfriend her life. His actions after the shooting helped build a case that he was remorseful, the court said.
He phoned triple-0 immediately and commenced CPR. He tried to revive Ms Belej for about an hour before paramedics arrived. She was clearly dead when they got there.
Osborn was taken into custody at 8.43pm. He was originally charged with murder but that was downgraded to manslaughter on the grounds that prosecutors could not prove murderous intent.
On May 16, 2017, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Mildura Supreme Court to nine years and two months' imprisonment. The minimum term of six years means he could be out within four years.
'SHE WAS UNHAPPY'
The court previously heard that in the period leading up to the shooting, Ms Belej recorded several entries in her diary about the difficulties the pair were experiencing in their relationship.
A summary provided by the court says "she was unhappy with (Osborn's) relationships with other women, his excessive consumption of alcohol and his possession of a handgun, which he had recently acquired".
The Department of Public Prosecutions appealed Osborn's sentence, claiming it was too short.
They claimed a sentencing judge should have taken into account that Osborn lied on a number of occasions when giving his original account of events on the night Ms Belej was killed.
But two of three Court of Appeal judges on Thursday rejected the DPP's assertion that Osborn should spend more time in jail.
Justice Stephen McLeish was on his own. He said the sentence was inadequate and a 12-year term with a minimum of eight years would have been more appropriate.
Ms Belej's family called her killer a "coward" in victim impact statements.