ACT axe murderer jailed for 26 years

Roje Adaimy

Tara Costigan wanted to be protected from her ex-partner.

But a day after applying for a domestic violence order, she was killed with an axe - as punishment.

Marcus Rappel was on Friday sentenced to at least 26 years in jail for viciously murdering the Canberra mum in February 2015.

She was cradling their eight-day-old daughter during the attack, falling on top of her after being fatally struck in the back of the neck.

Her two sons, aged nine and 11 at the time, saw it all happen.

"Your actions deprived three children of their mother, including your own infant daughter," Justice John Burns said in sentencing at the ACT Supreme Court.

"The effects of your actions will be felt for decades to come."

Rappel had to be restrained during his sentencing and removed from the courtroom after repeatedly yelling at Justice Burns.

He screamed "rights for fathers" as he was escorted into another room from where he watched the rest of his sentencing.

The children, the court was told, suffered from nightmares and said they would do anything to have their mum back.

Justice Burns rated it in the worst category of murder, labelling it "vicious and cowardly".

Instead of going down the peaceful path to resolve their issues, Rappel resorted to "shameful barbarism".

His motive "was to punish her" for applying for and then obtaining an interim domestic violence order against Rappel, the judge said.

After being served the order, Rappel threatened to "kill that bitch for what she did" before buying an axe from a hardware store and driving to Ms Costigan's house.

He smashed down the door and chased her down, striking her twice.

Her sister and sister's partner were injured while trying to stop the attack - for which Rappel will also serve time.

He was sentenced to a total of 32 years and two months, with a non-parole period of 26 years.

"It should've been forever," Ms Costigan's mother, Trish Fuller, told reporters outside court.

"But whatever he did, it's never going to bring her back. This has just been devastating."

Other family members said they had been given a life sentence when Tara was murdered, and that Rappel deserved the same.

Her uncle, Michael Costigan, said the jail term does not bring any closure.

"Today's verdict does not bring me peace - Tara remains dead," he told reporters.

He called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act on his statement made earlier this week that the first duty of government is the safety of the people.

"I want to believe you, but at the moment I don't," he said, adding that family and domestic violence had killed more than 1000 Australians since 2000.

"If those more than 1000 victims occurred as a result of terrorism, how much money would our governments be throwing at this problem?

"This is a national disgrace."

Mr Turnbull and Labor leader Bill Shorten spoke about Ms Costigan's case in parliament last year, with both pledging to do more about domestic violence.