The three-week wait police face with Kelly Wilkinson's accused killer

Yahoo News Australia and agencies
·3-min read

The man accused of murdering a Queensland mother-of-three has woken from a coma and has been formally charged, however police could wait weeks to interview him.

Kelly Wilkinson was killed a week ago, when her estranged husband, Brian Earl Johnston allegedly set her on fire in the backyard of her Gold Coast home.

Johnston was visited by police at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, where he was in a coma for the 10 days following the death of Ms Wilkinson.

Chris Hannay, the lawyer who is representing Johnston confirmed police have formally charged him with murder.

Mr Hannay said police were not able to interview him.

Kelly Wilkinson's estranged husband has been formally charged by police. Source: GoFundMe
Kelly Wilkinson's estranged husband has been formally charged by police. Source: GoFundMe

“Police wanted to interview him but we obviously rejected that as he wasn’t in any position to do an interview," he told NCA Newswire.

“He was able to speak to me in a whisper, obviously his throat is sore and I understand he has been out of a coma since yesterday and was coherent."

Mr Hannay said it is likely he won't see his client for a week and said he will be in hospital for "a while".

It could be two to three weeks before Johnston is well enough to be interviewed by the police, the ABC understands.

Community rallies around Ms Wilkinson's family

Hundreds gathered on Monday to mourn Ms Wilkinson, wearing her favourite colour, green.

Local state MP Sam O'Connor read a statement on behalf of Ms Wilkinson's family that described her as a "beloved daughter, sister and mother".

"She had always said that being a mother was the best job in the world, and loved nothing more than watching the kids play," he said.

Kelly Wilkinson's family at her vigil.
The family of Kelly Wilkinson are seen during a vigil for the mother on the Gold Coast on Monday. Source: AAP

"Kelly was a strong, fierce woman with an enormous heart.

"She would help others regardless of the events in her own life, she would stand tall beside the people close to her and give more than she had."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Ms Wilkinson's funeral and support her three children.

Ms Wilkinson's children are being cared for by her sister Danielle Carroll.

Calls for investigation into police actions brushed off by cop

One of Queensland's assistant police commissioners has brushed off calls for an independent investigation into police actions in the lead up to Ms Wilkinson's death.

Mark Wheeler says an internal review is underway into their dealings with the mother-of-three, who was allegedly set alight by her estranged husband in her backyard last week.

Mr Wheeler said he recognised the review conducted by former Court of Appeal judge Margaret McMurdo, but other processes needed to be adhered to.

Police work at the home of murder victim Kelly Wilkinson on the Gold Coast on, April 21, 2021. Source: AAP
Police work at the home of alleged murder victim Kelly Wilkinson on the Gold Coast. Source: AAP

"Those matters are for others to comment on, but I certainly acknowledge the work of Justice McMurdo with the task force review," he said in Townsville on Friday.

"Those things will occur in due course, there is an internal review being conducted which was announced a little while ago.

"But ultimately there is also judicial processes to apply to it as well, including criminal prosecution, a coronial matter that will need to be looked at, so those are matters for others."

Justice McMurdo, who is the head of a women's justice task force reviewing women's experiences in the justice system, says there is strong support for an independent investigation into Queensland police's handling of Ms Wilkinson's death.

With AAP

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