The father of murdered musician Andy Marshall has described how “time slipped into a slow-motion nightmare” when police told him his son has been killed by a man who pushed him through a second-storey window of a Cottesloe pub.
In Perth for what was supposed to have been the sentencing of his son’s murderer, Stefan Pahia Schmidt, Alan Marshall today told the Supreme Court of the “all enveloping” grief at losing at his son.
“The day that our son Andy was killed our lives were changed forever,” Mr Marshall said in an emotional victim impact statement read to the court.
“I felt the life drain from me as I tried to absorb the truth of what I was being told.
“This was the first day of many repeat, more of the same days that in reality rolled into one journey of disbelief. Time slipped into a slow-motion nightmare.
“To be traumatised like this has affected every area of our lives.”
Mr Marshall, who had travelled from New Zealand for the sentencing, told the court he did not expect to ever move on from his son’s death.
“As a father, I will carry the loss of my beloved son very deeply for the remainder of my days,” he said.
“The more you love, the more you grieve, you cannot have your heart ripped out and crushed and ever return to a state of normality as you once knew it.”
Following an eight-day Supreme Court trial in June, Schmidt was found guilty of murdering Andy Marshall who died after he was pushed and fell through a window of Cottesloe’s Ocean Beach Hotel on May 8 last year.
Schmidt was due to be sentenced in the Supreme Court this morning, but Justice Ralph Simmonds said it was a “serious sentencing” exercise and adjourned until Monday morning.
During this morning’s proceedings, a solemn-looking Schmidt, wearing a black suit and his head shaved, sat in the dock with his hands clasped.
Andy Marshall’s mother, Wendy, brother Ben and sister Katie Rongonui, watched the proceedings via video link from New Zealand, participating to read victim impact statements to the court.
They also told of their grief at the death of Mr Marshall, a drummer with the band Rich Widow, who had been living in Perth for three years after moving to Australia from New Zealand.
Schmidt, a former bouncer who weighed 152kg at the time of the crime, claimed he intended only to push Mr Marshall with his left hand like a “rugby fend-off” but he never intended to hurt or kill him.
In sentencing submissions this morning, one of his defence lawyers, Simon Watters, argued for a sentence other than life imprisonment in light of the “level of criminality” and the circumstances of the assault, but said if life imprisonment was imposed, Schmidt should be given the statutory minimum.
“It is difficult to envisage a more benign assault leading to a murder conviction,” he told the court.
Mr Watters said Schmidt had offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful assault causing death, but this was rejected by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In written submissions to the court, defence lawyer Tom Percy said the prosecution accepted Schmidt had no intention to kill Mr Marshall.
“Mr Schmidt did not know the victim, there was not a sustained, violent attack, he was not carrying out an arranged plan, was not in company and he had exhibited both remorse and empathy,” he said.
Prosecutor Amanda Forrestor told the court Mr Marshall and Schmidt were complete strangers and the fatal push was “completely inexplicable” and “totally senseless”.
At his trial, she said it was a clear case of murder and there was no explanation for Schmidt’s unjustified attack on Mr Marshall other than a fit of rage.
In arguing for Schmidt to be sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period above the minimum, Ms Forrestor said Mr Marshall’s family would have to live with the “senselessness” of his death for the rest of their lives.
She said there was a need for general deterrents in cases involving acts of random violence on licensed premises.
Outside court, Alan Marshall said he could not comment on sentencing ahead of Monday but it had been important for his family to be a part of the process.
“There is no way that you can recover- our lives have changed, we have a new normal, a new life from that day,” he said.
“We would have loved it to have been resolved today but we’re happy that it’s going to happen and we just want the best decision.
“I think it was important to be here – it’s our opportunity to say something, to have a voice and for me, the sentencing and the process is on the human cost and it’s the tragedy and the horror of what’s happened to people and this is what it’s about.”
Mr Marshall said he hoped it sent a strong message that violence was intolerable and unacceptable.
“I think the sentencing is an opportunity to completely denounce violence and to condemn it, basically, in any form,” he said.