News Crime Man jailed for murdering girlfriend weeks after her brain surgery

Man jailed for murdering girlfriend weeks after her brain surgery

caitlin o'brien murder sentence
Caitlin O'Brien had brain surgery weeks before her boyfriend killed her. Photo: ABC
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A Melbourne man who used a pair of pants and a pillow to kill his girlfriend just weeks after she underwent brain surgery, has been sentenced to 22 years in prison over the murder, which he confessed to disbelieving police officers.

In the hours after he killed Caitlin O’Brien in June 2019, Shea Dylan Sturt went to Flinders Street Station, where he pleaded with a constable to arrest him, telling the officer how he strangled the popular nurse.

A short time later, officers conducting a welfare check found Ms O’Brien’s half-naked body on the bed in their home, with a pair of pants wrapped tightly around her neck.

Ms O’Brien was recovering from brain surgery.

Sturt, 33, pleaded guilty to murder and on Wednesday was sentenced in Victoria’s Supreme Court.

He was ordered to serve 16 years before being eligible for parole.

caitlin o'brien murder sentence
Shea Sturt had pleaded with a police officer to arrest him in the hours after her death. Photo: Facebook

Murder ‘not a one-off incident of domestic violence’

Justice Christopher Beale said Ms O’Brien was only 31 when her life was cut short.

“You murdered her in her own home, a place where she should’ve been safe,” he told Sturt.

“It was not a one-off incident of domestic violence.”

The court heard that Sturt had a “schizo-type” personality disorder and smoked cannabis to feel calmer.

But Justice Beale said using the cannabis was not the only way that Sturt could have tackled his anxiety.

“You were aware that cannabis might cause you to become violently psychotic,” he said.

Victim grabbed scissors to defend herself

On the morning that she died, Ms O’Brien was sitting on her bed when Sturt approached her and began talking about the end of the world.

Court documents reveal he ripped her pants off to see if he “still felt anything” for her, and held her down, but she managed to get away and run to the bathroom where she armed herself with a pair of scissors.

A struggle followed and Ms O’Brien was stabbed up to five times before Sturt held her down on the bed and smothered her with a pillow.

Then, fearing she was still alive, he strangled her with a pair of tracksuit pants, before showering and heading into the city.

Two days before the murder, Ms O’Brien and Sturt, who had been together for a decade, exchanged chilling Facebook messages after he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

“I would never hurt you,” Sturt, now 33, told the victim.

“I hope so. I get scared,” Ms O’Brien responded.

“Of what,” Sturt asked.

“You murdering me,” she said.

Family and domestic violence support services
InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence: 1800 755 988
1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
Women’s Crisis Line: 1800 811 811
Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 131 114
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277