February 17, 2012

Michelle Morrissey: A life cut short by a frenzy of violence by Luke John Cotterill (PIC)

Luke John Cotterill had a history of violence
  • Teen stabbed to death in "brutal and senseless crime"
  • Stabbed nearly 30 times in the chest, throat and stomach
  • Killer was given a maximum sentence of 22 years
TEENAGER Michelle Morrissey's bright future was ended by a troubled man who stabbed her to death in a "brutal and senseless crime" .

In sentencing Luke John Cotterill to at least 16 years jail for the murder, Justice Lucy McCallum said Ms Morrissey "must have died in a state of absolute pain and terror" on March 27, 2010, when she was confronted by him in her Mudgee home.

Cotterill, 20, pleaded guilty last August to murdering Ms Morrissey after stabbing her nearly 30 times in the chest, throat and stomach.

The 19-year-old had been ironing a dress and getting ready for a party when Cotterill struck.

Her boyfriend Jake McGowan found her body on the rear steps of the house after he became worried when she didn't respond to his calls.

Justice McCallum described the crime as "callous, brutal and senseless", noting that Cotterill, who had planned to rob the house, had probably been surprised to find there was a person inside.

Ms Morrissey's family, along with relatives of her killer, attended the sentencing, as Cotterill was also handed a six-month jail term for escaping from a prison truck after his arrest.

Michelle Morrissey was just 19 when
she was brutally murdered.
Documents tendered to the court last year said Cotterill, who was staying in the NSW town of Mudgee for a birthday party, told inmates in that truck that he had been "casing" the home for a robbery.

At his sentencing hearing late last year, Sue Morrissey revealed the anguish of losing "an irreplaceable part of my life, my Shelley".

"Today I have not seen Michelle for 622 days ... it has been 89 weeks of my new life, a life I didn't choose and a life I don't deserve. I sit here a broken mum."

Cotterill's mother wouldn't reveal her name outside court but expressed her fears that the family "are being judged for the crime he did".

"We are not responsible for his actions," she said. "He's holding up OK, it's the rest of my family I'm 
worried about."

Cotterill, who the court heard has a long history of behavioural and psychological difficulties, was given a maximum sentence of 22 years.

With time already spent in custody, he will be eligible for release in 2026.

The court was told Cotterill had a "violent" childhood, including one episode in which he threw furniture around a classroom for six hours.

"When he was just 10 years old, his teachers reported that he displayed physical aggression towards others including biting and kicking while under restraint, throwing furniture, kicking others who passed him, using sticks to swipe at other students, physical violence against other students and swearing at staff and students," Justice McCallum said.

"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the offender intended to kill Ms Morrissey."
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