The daughter of cold case murder victim Suzanne Poll has died, the night before her mother’s killer had his appeal dismissed in court.
Melissa Poll died on Wednesday night at her home in Queensland from complications from the flu.
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Melissa’s mother Suzanne Poll was just 36 when she was found in a pool of blood in the rear of the Adelaide stationery store where she worked in 1993.
She had suffered at least 18 stab wounds, including some that went right through her body.
Melissa was eight-years-old at the time. Suzanne also left behind a son named Adam.
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The case remained unsolved until 2019, when new DNA technology led police to Matthew Donald Tilley through a discarded takeaway coffee cup.
His DNA was matched to blood found at the murder scene.
Tilley was jailed for at least 26 years over the killing.
When he was convicted, Melissa told 7NEWS it was the best Christmas present she could have wished for.
Her family said they are still coming to terms with her death and are supporting her husband and children.
Tilley had argued errors were made during his trial in relation to the admission of DNA evidence, the judge’s directions to the jury on motive and in relation to forensic and other material.
He also contended the jury had received an unbalanced summary of the case.
But in a judgement on Thursday, the Court of Appeal dismissed his challenge.
It found the judge’s directions were not inadequate, he had not erred in allowing certain evidence and there had been no miscarriage of justice.
“When considered in its entirety, the trial judge’s summing up was not unbalanced,” the appeal court said.
“Nor did His Honour fail to adequately and fairly present the defence case.”
‘Devastating and wonderful’
It’s an emotional time for the family, Melissa’s aunt Barbara Taylor said.
“It’s devastating and wonderful at the same time,” she said.
“It’s been 30 years and we’ve finally got the result that we wanted. The appeal has been dismissed.
“But on the other hand, it’s devastating news that my beautiful niece Melissa passed away last night, and she wasn’t around to share the wonderful news.”
The DNA evidence was a key sticking point of Tilley’s trial, with his defence questioning whether the evidence had been properly preserved over almost three decades.
In sentencing, Justice David Peek said Tilley’s continued denials of killing Suzanne were knowingly false.
“You fled the scene and have been successful in evading police detection for many years,” the judge told him.
“You continue, even now, to falsely deny your guilt, and you decline to offer any explanation as to how your conduct came about.”
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