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Ex-policeman sentenced to life for murdering de-facto wife

OF THE many harrowing and poignant moments for murder victim Lainie Coldwell's family in the weeks following her death came from her then three-year-old daughter.

After Lainie's de facto Louis James Mahony was found guilty of her murder by a Toowoomba Supreme Court jury, Lainie's niece Georgia Grant, surrounded by family, read a victim impact statement to the court expressing how Lainie's death had devastated their tight knit family.  

In the weeks after her death, Lainie's daughter Dakota had often asked where her Mummy was.

Told that "Mummy's now an angel", the three-year-old had replied: "I don't want an angel, I want my Mummy", Ms Grant said.  

After 13 days of evidence, the jury took less than four hours to find Mahony guilty.  

Mahony, 44, sat without expression as the verdict was announced and remained stoic as Justice James Douglas told him there was but one sentence he could impose, that of life imprisonment.  

Having served two years in pre-sentence custody, Mahony will have to spend at least another 13 years in jail before he is eligible to apply for release on parole.  

A number of Lainie Coldwell's family cried "Yes!" as Justice Douglas pronounced sentence.  

By it's verdict, the jury had found Mahony to be the manipulative, lying, greedy philanderer that he was portrayed to be by the Crown.  

Witnesses had given evidence that Mahony regularly said no-one would take his daughter from him, but Lainie had told her family that she was leaving Mahony and taking their daughter because of his affairs with other women.  

The jury also accepted the Crown case that Mahony struck Lainie in the back of the head causing an horrific injury which proved fatal and then placed her body at the base of a gum tree in the yard of their Charleville home on the afternoon of August 23, 2009, to make it look as if she had fallen from the tree while removing party lights.  

Mahony, an ex-policeman knew about crime scenes and crime investigations.  

However, he had murdered Lainie while their three-year-old daughter had had an afternoon nap inside the home at 11 Walter St, Charleville.  

YESTERDAY: Charleville man Louis James Mahony has been found guilty of murdering his de facto wife of 18 years, Lainie Coldwell.

A Toowoomba Supreme Court jury retired earlier this morning and returned a guilty verdict at 3.30pm.

Justice James Douglas completed his summing up of the case to the jury of seven men and five women earlier this morning.

Justice Douglas sentenced Mahony to mandatory life imprisonment. 

More information to come. 

EARLIER: THE Toowoomba Supreme Court jury in the murder trial of Charleville man Louis James Mahony has just retired to consider a verdict.

 

 

Justice James Douglas completed his summing up of the case to the jury of seven men and five women this morning before asking them to retire for deliberations.

Justice Douglas has offered the jury analternate verdict on a charge of manslaughter.

Mahony, 44, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder arising from the death of his de facto wife of 18 years Lainie Coldwell.

He claims to have found Lainie lying at the base of a large gum tree in the front yard of their then Charleville home at 11 Walter St on the afternoon of Sunday, August 23, 2009.

Mahony claimed Lainie had fallen from the tree while removing party lights from its branches and hit her head on a rock garden surrounding the base of the tree.

Lainie had sustained a serious fracture to the back of her head and died in a Brisbane hospital two days later after her life support was turned off.

The 13-day trial heard that initially the fall from the tree scenario had been accepted and no police crime scene had been set up at the home or any thorough investigation done.

However, after it became known Louis Mahony had taken out a $1.5m life police against his wife and himself just two months later, which the Crown claims Lainie knew nothing about, an insurance investigator looked into the matter.

It was found that Mahony had been having affairs with women at the Charleville goat abbatoir where he and Lainie worked and that Lainie had told her parents and others that she was leaving him and taking their three-year-old daugher with them.

Three pathologists and two biomechanical engineer experts in evidence before the court agreed that it was "very unlikely" Lainie had sustained the head wound from a fall from the tree as she had no other injuries.

However, under cross examination by Mahony's barrister Phil Hardcastle, each conceded that they couldn't exclude such a scenario.

The Crown claimed Mahony, a former policeman, knew about police investigations and crime scenes and had staged the scene to look as if Lainie had fallen from the tree.

Crown prosecutor Carl Heaton in his closing address suggested the scene that morning, which had Mahony's F250 truck back into the tree with a ladder extending from the utility's tray up into the tree had been part of a set-up to make it looks as if Lainie had climbed the tree from there.

He suggested the truck was parked there to obscure the view from the front of the property to the back where the couple had a home gymnasium and where the Crown claimed she had been struck to the head before being placed under the tree.

Topics:  charleville editors picks lainie coldwell louis james mahony murder toowoomba court


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