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Victim's family angry killer will walk in less than a year

VICTIM: Justin Chapman died after he was stabbed in the chest at a South Gladstone residence in December 2015.
VICTIM: Justin Chapman died after he was stabbed in the chest at a South Gladstone residence in December 2015. Facebook

IT TOOK just one stab to Justin Chapman's chest but the fatal wound not only pierced the wall around his aorta, but broke the heart of his family and friends forever.

Yesterday, a career criminal - Mark Bradley Hicks - pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter in the Rockhampton Supreme Court.

As the court waited for proceedings to start, Hicks made gestures towards Chapman's older brother Marshall Murphy, indicative of apologising.

Mr Murphy responded with icy cold stares towards a man who had lived with his aunty and killed his younger brother.

The turn of events immediately before the fatal stabbing on December 4, 2015, were somewhat blurry.

The court heard that Justin had consumed six to seven litres of alcoholic drinks during the day at the Elizabeth St, South Gladstone home and been seen shadow boxing with another family member.

 

Fatal stabbing in South Gladstone. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Fatal stabbing in South Gladstone. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA041215FATL

 

Later that night a grossly intoxicated Justin, 22, argued with Hicks and other people.

His aunty witnessed a sober Hicks, 45 at the time, punch Justin in the face once before she told Hicks to leave Justin alone.

Then Justin reacted by punching Hicks in the face five times.

The court heard Justin's aunty followed Justin into the bathroom while Hicks went to the kitchen.

Justin's aunty went back to bed, leaving Justin in the bathroom.

Within a few minutes, she heard someone yelling "call the ambulance".

She found Hicks with a knife with a 30cm blade in his hand and a pool of blood around the feet of her nephew.

"He was hopeful in preventing further assault upon him by picking up the knife," Ms Praskalo said.

Crown Prosecutor Greg Cummins said when Hicks armed himself with the knife, there was a grave risk to Justin no matter what happened.

"It's a very serious thing to take someone's life in such a frivolous way," he said.

Hicks fled and Justin collapsed. Justin bleed to death. He had sustained one stab wound to the upper chest, piercing the wall of his heart.

"He was panicked and shocked," Ms Praskalo said about her client's reason for fleeing the scene.

 

CRIME SCENE: Senior sergeant Adrian Brock at the fatal stabbing in South Gladstone.
CRIME SCENE: Senior sergeant Adrian Brock at the fatal stabbing in South Gladstone. Mike Richards GLA041215FATL

 

Marshall read out his impact statement in court, saying he felt he'd let their deceased parents down with his younger brother's death.

"He wasn't just a little brother to me," Marshall said.

"He was and still is my best friend."

The court heard the family had been through hell in the years leading up to Justin's death with the children - three boys and one girl - sent to live with other family members and split up, and then their father dying when Justin was 15 and their mother dying when Justin was 21.

"He (Justin) made me his role model," Marshall said.

"I was that depressed (following his death) hair was falling off my skull."

While Hicks handed himself into police the following day, his extensive obscene criminal history weighted over the court proceedings as the crown prosecution pushed for the man's 28-year nine-page history be taken into consideration for sentencing.

Mr Cummins read out parts of Hicks criminal and traffic histories which included three armed robberies (Hicks was the get away driver), five assaults, drugs, utensils, speeding, fraud , smuggling drugs into Capricornia Correctional Centre and street offences.

His traffic history was so bad one Judge ordered an absolute disqualification period which Hicks has never contested.

The court heard that one of the armed robberies involved two men holding up a service station in Brisbane - one armed with a sawn off shot gun which was used to get the cashier to lie on the ground and a second person to lie on top before the offenders fled the scene with $250 cash.

Hicks was the getaway driver, waiting in a stolen vehicle he told police he took for a joyride, and came to the attention of police due to a lack of headlights.

He crashed the car into a barrier before fleeing on foot. Police found him in a creek bed later.

In the course of another armed robbery, Hicks drove the stolen getaway vehicle in excess of 130km in suburban streets during a police chase, ran red lights and drove across a pedestrian bridge. It was wide enough for the getaway car but too wide for the police vehicle following the offenders.

When Hicks was about 30, he was involved in a number of ram raids with a co-offender where they would ram raid bottle shops.

Ms Praskalo said Hicks' criminal history, which dates back to when he was 17-years-old, evolved from an addiction to heroin and the need to pay for that addiction.

She said Hicks expressed his deepest regret and remorse to Justin's family.

"He had no intention of causing harm to Mr Chapman on that night," Ms Praskalo said.

She said Hicks had felt dazed and groggy after being hit in the head five times and things were happening quickly.

"You've got an appalling criminal history," Justice Duncan McMeekin said during sentencing.

"You've spent a considerable amount of time in prison."

Justice McMeekin sentenced Hicks to 7.5 years prison and set a parole eligibility date of June 3, 2018 declaring 637 presentence custody.

Marshall stormed out of the court swearing loudly.

His sister Ashaalee Murphy burst out in uncontrollable tears for a few minutes before she followed Marshall and yelled out offensive sentiments to Hicks who was being escorted to the watchhouse.

Topics:  elizabeth st justice duncan mcmeekin justin chapman manslaughter mark bradley hicks south gladstone stabbing supreme court of rockhampton


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