A teenager who admitted murdering her elderly grandfather by bludgeoning him with a frying pan during an argument about her mother’s parenting skills has been jailed for life in Western Australia.
Tayla Louise Perkin, 19, struck 89-year-old Lyall James Ellis from behind as he sat in a chair at the family’s Esperance home on Anzac Day last year.
As Mr Ellis cried out in pain and bled, Perkin hit him at least another three or four times until he fell out of his chair and once more as he lay on the ground, the WA Supreme Court heard on Tuesday.
Perkin admitted to the emergency operator what she had done and later told police she lost her temper, describing it as “like rage, almost”.
“As soon as it happened I wanted to take it back … I kept hitting him because I thought it would make it better,” Perkin told police.
She further explained she thought if she kept hitting him he would pass out and not feel pain.
Justice Anthony Derrick said Mr Ellis was defenceless, vulnerable, frail and in poor health.
“It was really a very violent attack,” he said.
“You referred to the fact that you felt burdened by having to care for the deceased.”
He said Perkin was to be sentenced on the basis she intended to cause Mr Ellis a bodily injury likely to endanger life, rather than intending to kill.
Perkin attended a private school where she was house captain and dux of her year, and had a goal to become a journalist.
“You were a quiet, mature, talented, diligent and driven student,” Justice Derrick said.
“During your school years in Esperance you were noted by your teachers to be under a significant amount of stress due to your family obligations.”
Justice Derrick noted Perkin had a protective attitude towards her mother and was experiencing significant psychological stress due to the death of her grandmother, her studies and the burden of household responsibilities.
“You were in effect required to take on a completely inappropriate level of responsibility for someone of your age,” he said.
“You were at the time that you committed your offence at a flashpoint with the build-up of all the stresses in the preceding years.”
Justice Derrick acknowledged Perkin had a supportive family, who loved her and hoped she would live a good life in the future.
In a letter, Perkin said she deeply regretted her actions for causing substantial pain to her loved ones.
“No one deserves to die at the hands of another. My actions will remain with me and my family for the rest of our lives,” she said.
“Therefore, serving a prison sentence that brings justice to my grandfather is the right thing to do.”
Perkin must serve at least 11 years behind bars before she can be eligible for parole.