Man jailed for savage unexplained DV death

·3-min read

A man who inexplicably erupted into a lethal rage repeatedly stabbing his girlfriend on New Year's Eve has been jailed for at least 20 years.

Before he was sentenced in the Wollongong Supreme Court on Friday, Angela O'Donnell's family revealed their grief and unrelenting horror over the way the 53 year old died.

"It was savage and relentless and evidently carried out with the intention to kill rather than cause serious harm," said Justice Des Fagan.

A jury in January took just over an hour to find Petero Baleinapuka guilty of murdering Ms O'Donnell in her Woonona townhouse late on December 31, 2019.

The 58 year old still denies stabbing her at least 14 times with two knives, leaving blood splattered around her home.

Baleinapuka had claimed he lied when he told police "I killed her, I didn't mean to hurt her, I loved her".

He blamed an unknown intruder after claiming to have stumbled upon Ms O'Donnell telling him to "leave her to die," so he hugged her then ran away in shock.

Justice Fagan said the couple met in 2017 and he moved into her home a few months before the murder.

They had gone out on New Year's Eve and she sent a cheerful message to one of her two brothers from home at 10.14pm.

But audio from a nearby CCTV camera at 10.38[, captured her final cries "Petero, Petero, look at me ... oh my god".

Her words were spoken with fear and anguish, said the judge, finding she was subject to a prolonged, ferocious attack.

The considerable force used resulted in the knife slipping and injuring the hand of her attacker, who then took time to patch up his own cuts and consume beer on the deck.

"There is no evidence of conflict, neither verbal or physical, at any time prior to New Year's Eve," the judge said.

No explanation had been given of any conflict on that night nor of what sparked his "sudden eruption into lethal rage".

Ms O'Donnell, who had science and psychology degrees, was a diminutive woman, while Baleinapuka was significantly taller, strongly built and imposing.

Noting Baleinapuka's repeated claims that he had loved his partner, the judge said one would expect that to translate into deep remorse for taking her life.

But he had shown none nor accepted responsibility, with his denial being "in the face of overwhelming evidence".

The judge noted the profound impact on Ms O'Donnell's family, including her two adult sons, her two brothers and their mother.

He set a maximum term of 26 years and eight months.

Ms O'Donnell's brother Kevin Arrow told the judge of a family visit to his beloved sister at her home just after Christmas.

"Within two days Angela was a victim of domestic violence - she lay dead in pools of blood in her lounge room at Campbell St Woonona, where two days previously we laughed together and enjoyed each others company."

Callum O'Donnell said he was constantly angry, sad, exhausted and completely helpless because of his mother's murder.

"Every day I think about my mum. Everyday I wish I could talk to her.

"Everyday I try to remember all the good times, but instead I simply see photos, forensic descriptions and hear audio of her death."

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