A father murdered his 21-year-old daughter by stabbing her in the heart with a knife he had been using to cut a chocolate cake before an argument erupted in his South Fremantle unit, a Supreme Court jury was told this morning.
Opening the prosecution case against Kelvin Clive Hart, lawyer Paul Yovich said there was no dispute the accused had been holding the knife when it went into his daughter Ricki-Lee Hart’s chest and caused a fatal wound on December 20, 2012.
Mr Yovich told the Perth jury that it was not alleged Mr Hart had set out with the intention of killing his daughter.
But the prosecution case alleged that Mr Hart had intended to stab her in the chest in the “heat of the moment” during an argument and that this had resulted in a life-threatening injury.
He said the jury would also be able to consider the lesser and alternative charge of manslaughter and the possibility Mr Hart had been criminally negligent in handling the potentially dangerous weapon.
Defence lawyer Tom Percy told the jury it was a “most unusual” and tragic case.
Mr Percy said his client’s position had been clear from the outset – he accepted that his daughter had died as a result of a wound to her heart caused by the knife he was holding, but he did not wilfully cause the knife to enter her body and was also not criminally negligent.
“Mr Hart was not aware he still had the knife in his hand from cutting the cake, he did not lunge at Ricki-Lee or purposefully stab her,” Mr Percy said.
“He was not even aware that she had suffered any injury whatsoever. He had no reason to want to hurt his daughter.”
The jury was told Ms Hart did not live with her father, but occasionally stayed at his unit and there was a history of disputes between the pair.
On the night Ms Hart collapsed outside the block of units in a small pool of blood, there had been an argument and Mr Hart had wanted his daughter to leave.
After the incident, Mr Hart had taken his seven-year-old daughter for a walk at the beach.
Mr Hart’s younger daughter and Ms Hart’s half-sister, who had been present during the argument but did not witness the stabbing, would be among the witnesses called to give evidence.