'Habitual perpetrator' killed mum: Coroner

·3-min read

A mother-of-four most likely died from a brain injury caused by her partner - an "habitual perpetrator" of domestic abuse - hitting and choking her, a Queensland coroner has found.

Paul McDonald later confessed, saying to another woman he was in a relationship with that he had struck Kirra-Lea McLoughlin and "got away with murder", Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley said on Monday.

Ms McLoughlin, 27, had 102 areas of bruising when she died in hospital in July 2014 after being found unconscious at her home the previous day.

She was living at Wolvi, north of Brisbane, with McDonald, at the time.

McDonald has a history of domestic abuse, becoming "particularly violent when jealous or concerned that his partner may leave him", Ms Bentley said in handing down her findings of the inquest into Ms McLoughlin's death.

"Mr McDonald has a propensity to inflict severe physical violence on his partners and is a habitual perpetrator of severe and serious domestic abuse including coercive control of his partners," she said.

His criminal history includes more than 70 convictions and "lengthy periods of imprisonment" for domestic violence-related offending.

The most recent sentence was handed down in November 2019 when McDonald was given a four-year prison term. He remains in custody, but chose not to give evidence at the inquest, Ms Bentley said.

On the night Ms McLoughlin was injured, McDonald was drunk and likely to have been told about a sexual relationship she had with a neighbour.

Ms McLoughlin had also told her ex-husband she wanted to reconcile with him.

It is likely she told McDonald this during an argument in the evening of July 16, 2014, because a neighbour heard her yell: "I don't love you anymore," the findings state.

Ms Bentley found McDonald struck Ms McLoughlin numerous times and also damaged the house.

He probably hit her head into the back of the toilet wall, struck her forehead possibly with a baseball bat, hit her with a broom stick and choked her, she said.

"It is likely that by 11.30pm Mr McDonald had caused the injuries that killed Ms McLoughlin and she was unconscious as a result of those injuries," Ms Bentley found.

A neighbour heard him on the phone saying: "I have f***ed up. I don't know what to do."

McDonald only called for help for Ms McLoughlin about 2pm the following day.

Paramedics found her unresponsive with an non-survivable brain injury.

She died on July 18, 2014, in Gold Coast University Hospital.

The inquest was also told Ms McLoughlin and McDonald's sister had an altercation earlier on July 16.

Tamiqua McDonald admitted she hit Ms McLoughlin four times, but when discussing the women's death years later, McDonald told her not to worry because she "didn't do it".

Ms Bentley found it was likely Ms McLoughlin struck her head during the fight and "may have been momentarily stunned following one of the falls to the floor, but was able to get back up immediately and continue fighting" with Ms McDonald.

"I find that it is very unlikely that the injuries Ms McLoughlin sustained during the altercation with Tamiqua McDonald were sufficient to cause her death or cause the majority of the 102 bruises which were found on her body at autopsy," Ms Bentley said.

The police investigation - which Ms Bentley regarded as "appropriate in all of the circumstances" - is continuing.

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