A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to eight years behind bars after pleading guilty to manslaughter over the death of a young woman in WA’s Wheatbelt region.
Amos Ryan Gunn was 21 years old when initially charged with murder before later pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The 30-year-old woman, who for cultural reasons will be known as Ms Dann, was found critically injured and covered in a blanket inside Gunn’s Moora home, only hours after the pair first met on April 16, 2019.
Ms Dann, who had a five-year-old son and worked as a roustabout alongside her father and sister in Moora, died in hospital the following day.
State prosecutor Amanda Forrester told the court she died from deprivation of blood and oxygen to her brain.
During her final submission before sentencing on Tuesday, Ms Forrester said both Gunn and Ms Dann had been drinking when they met on the street, having come from separate house parties that night.
He invited her to his place for a drink where the pair engaged in consensual sexual intercourse, after which point Gunn said Ms Dann became irate and that he had believed she was a threat to him.
The court was told Gunn took a metal pole off Ms Dann and held it to her neck.
It was 15 minutes before he called the authorities, during which time he sent a number of text messages to a housemate’s father.
One read, “The chicken is dead mate or fox or something, I’m not sure how to put it”, and another said his housemates were not responding but “I’ve got it under wraps”.
Ms Forrester said when Gunn spoke to his housemate’s father, he told him Ms Dunn was an Indigenous person who had broken in and he had stabbed her.
Gunn later admitted that was a lie.
Ms Dann’s family haunted by delay
His lawyer told the court Gunn had believed he had killed Ms Dann and acted out of panic, which is why it took 15 minutes before he called the authorities.
Ms Forrester said one of the things that would forever haunt Ms Dann’s family is what would have happened had he not waited.
She also pointed out the size difference between the pair, Ms Dann having been 164 centimetres tall and of slim build compared to Gunn’s 185centimetre frame.
Ms Forrester read out a number of victim impact statements from the Indigenous woman’s family, including her father, mother and two sisters, all sharing their devastation at the loss of their loved one.
One statement from Ms Dann’s now six-year-old son’s paternal grandmother read, “Hopefully his loss will not define his life in a bad way.”
It also said when the boy looked despondent and she asked how he was he had recently said, “I’m sad grandma cos I think I’m forgetting her.”
Ms Forrester told the court Ms Dann’s death was perhaps not what society would normally view as domestic violence, but that violence against women of any kind was unacceptable.
‘Life-changing’ for victim’s son
Gunn’s lawyer told the court it had been a shock for people who knew his client to see him where he was.
He said it had been a random meeting between two people that ended in tragedy and said Gunn made a series of bad decisions.
“It was a terrible decision to retaliate. Once he had disarmed Ms Dann he should have left it at that,” Gunn’s lawyer told the court.
He also labelled the messages Gunn sent as disrespectful and inappropriate.
During his sentencing remarks, Justice Joseph McGrath said Gunn’s young age, lack of criminal history and early guilty plea had all been taken into account as mitigating factors.
He said after careful reflection, and having read a detailed psychological report, he determined Gunn had remorse for his actions.
He said while he accepted Gunn had believed he had killed Ms Dann, which meant his action in delaying his call to authorities was out of panic and not an attempt to cover it up or callous indifference, his actions held serious consequences.
“Your action is life-changing for that five-year-old boy,” he told Gunn during sentencing.
Mr McGrath sentenced Gunn to eight years in prison, backdated to his initial arrest on March 17, 2019.
Gunn will be eligible for parole after having served six years of his sentence.