Axe threat led to two deaths, court told

·2-min read

A man who stabbed another man in the heart had not intended killing him but had reacted to being threatened with an axe, his barrister has told a judge.

Eric George Russell faced a sentence hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday when lawyers for the Crown and the defence invited the judge to make differing findings on the facts leading to the jury's verdicts.

The now 37-year-old had been charged with the stabbing murders of Damien Roach, 40, and Leah Mumbulla, 34, at Huntley Place in Cartwright, in western Sydney, in December 2019.

He was acquitted of murdering Ms Mumbulla and found guilty of manslaughter in relation to Mr Roach.

The lawyers and Justice Richard Cavanagh concluded Russell was acquitted of Ms Mumbulla's murder on the basis he was acting in self-defence.

The jury must have accepted she came at him with the axe dropped by Mr Roach after he was stabbed.

The manslaughter verdict was on the basis of his using excessive self-defence when Mr Roach threatened him with the axe.

"Mr Russell's response was just above what would have been a reasonable response in the circumstances," his barrister said.

"The jury must have come to the conclusion there was some other step he could have taken."

He submitted that his client's intention had been to cause grievous bodily harm to Mr Roach rather than to kill him.

Russell, at home alone, had been threatened by Mr Roach who said :"I have just got out of f***ing jail" and referred to a debt, the barrister said.

He noted evidence given by Russell who said he was upstairs when threatened with the axe, and went to the bathroom, got the knife, came out and used it.

But the prosecutor invited the judge to find that Russell had gone downstairs with the knife after hearing a male and female arguing outside.

"The offender came out of his apartment declaring 'I am sick of you coming around here'."

Describing Russell as an "unreliable historian", he submitted that his holding the knife would have prompted Mr Roach to perhaps launch at him with the axe.

While the Crown accepted Mr Roach threatened him with the axe, he said the jury arguably could have found he did not pose a life-threat and certainly didn't warrant being stabbed in the heart.

The sentence hearing will continue at a later date, after a psychologist's report on Russell has been clarified.

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