Brother murdered in alcohol-fuelled rage

·3-min read

In a "grim set of events" Gregory Robbins was murdered during a drunken brawl, stabbed seven times on the day he arrived in Queensland to attend his brother's wedding.

The groom-to-be Bernard John Robbins denied he was guilty of murder, saying he stabbed his brother, first in the back, while being held in a headlock, unable to breathe from being choked, after a night of arguments.

But a Supreme Court jury didn't accept the 59-year-old's version, handing down a guilty verdict on Wednesday after eight hours of deliberation.

Bernard Robbins killed his brother in what "should have been a happy setting" ahead of his wedding, Chief Justice Catherine Holmes said in sentencing the groom-to-be.

The 61-year-old Perth man arrived at his brother's home in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast on June 12, 2019, three days before the intended nuptials.

He hadn't even had time to unpack before an alcohol-fuelled argument erupted between the siblings.

Gregory Robbins "arced up" at the groom-to-be over a pointed jibe about his fractured relationship with his daughter, the court heard.

Gregory Robbins responded, calling their recently deceased mother a "stunned mullet".

But "the trigger" that really set off Bernard Robbins was the fear his bride-to-be could call off the wedding, prosecutor Christopher Cook told the trial.

Amid name-calling and swearing, neighbours heard Bernard Robbins say: "You've got no idea what's coming to you" and "I'm done, I've had enough".

The court heard Bernard Robbins armed himself with knives before stabbing his brother seven times in a "crime of passion".

Gregory Robbins received four life-threatening stab wounds, eight to 12 centimetres deep, to his heart.

He was also stabbed twice in the back and once in the stomach, dying in hospital in the early hours the next day.

Police found Bernard Robbins had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.182, while his brother was almost five times the legal limit for driving at 0.217.

"What you did had such appalling consequences for so many people," Chief Justice Holmes told Bernard Robbins in handing down his sentence on Wednesday.

She said "the horror of that night was inflicted" on Bernard Robbins' daughter and partner and his brother's partner Karen Vanden Driesen who were at the unit.

"All of them have had to relive it, having had to give evidence here," she added.

Chief Justice Holmes said Ms Vanden Driesen was having enormous trouble getting over the death of her partner.

"It was a horrific, traumatic event," she added.

"She didn't have any relief from alcohol because she was sober ... (and) she saw her partner dying and she continues to struggle and probably will for the rest of her days."

The judge said it was "such a grim set of events" for everyone involved.

But she accepted "it was a product of rage, fuelled by alcohol" and atypical behaviour for Bernard Robbins.

"It isn't something that seemed to have been reflected in anything in your past.," she added.

"You have no criminal history worth worrying about."

Chief Justice Holmes said Bernard Robbins must regret what happened and will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

"You clearly had some feelings for your brother or you wouldn't have invited him to your wedding."

After the verdict was handed down, defence barrister Damian Walsh told the court Bernard Robbins was "deeply sorry" for what occurred.

He said he had invited his brother for the "joyous occasion" of his planned wedding and was "deeply regretful" to Gregory Robbins' partner and daughter.

Chief Justice Holmes sentenced Bernard Robbins to life imprisonment, declaring that he had already spent more than 600 days behind bars since his arrest on the day he murdered his brother.