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Retrial over murder guilty plea

Bowan Taylor Wade.
Bowan Taylor Wade. Contributed

THE man who this year pleaded guilty to murdering his girlfriend, Clarissa Callow, 17, in a shed at Stanthorpe has had a change of heart and has been granted a retrial after appealing his conviction.

Despite having been convicted of murder on his own plea, Bowan Taylor Wade yesterday had both his plea and conviction set aside and a retrial ordered.

The matter was heard in the Brisbane Court of Appeal.

Wade, who was 19 at the time of Callow's murder, shocked even his own lawyers when he pleaded guilty to the charge in the Toowoomba Supreme Court on March 21 this year.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Wade lived with Callow at Hervey Bay and Bundaberg for a short time before moving to Stanthorpe.

The appeal was based on several grounds, including those that the plea was made so Wade - who swore to having problems dealing with large groups of people - could avoid facing the jury and witnesses during trial.

In his appeal, Wade argued the guilty plea was "a spur of the moment thing" because he wanted to "get out of court and was very anxious".

"I believed that when the witnesses gave their evidence and started saying things that weren't true or that I didn't agree with that I would have trouble not blurting things out.

"My belief of this caused my plea of guilty," he said.

In submissions from Wade's defence counsel in the appeals process, it was heard Wade stopped taking prescribed medications "in about November or December" of last year.

As a result of being unmedicated at the time of his plea, it was submitted he was "less able to deal with stress and...would sometimes blurt things out that (he) shouldn't say".

The body of his 17-year-old girlfriend Klarissa "Sal" Callow was found on August 10, 2009 in a storage room on a Stanthorpe property.

Evidence presented by the prosecution stated that Wade confessed to killing his girlfriend to several people, including his brother, a friend and police.

Wade contacted police on the afternoon of August 10, 2009 and told the police officer he spoke to where the teen's body was located.

He told the officer he had "knocked her off and then choked her until she was blue".

The Court of Appeal heard the two had separated shortly before Miss Callow's death and Wade had told his brother she was pregnant.

The prosecution added that Wade told his brother that if Miss Callow was "not going to do the right thing by the baby (he) might as well kill her" and proceeded to threaten to kill her three or four times during the conversation.

Another witness submitted to the court that Wade had told him he had thrown Miss Callow off a box and subsequently choked her for 30 minutes.

Wade disputed the claims made and submitted to the court that the death of his girlfriend was an accident and he had meant to plead not guilty.

Topics:  plea retrial stanthorpe


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