Queensland grandmother Heidi Marshall was loading her granddaughter into the car to go to school on a winter’s morning in June 2021 when her world fell apart.
As she was in the driveway of her home, the Sunshine Coast woman saw two detectives walk up towards her.
“My heart just sank … I collapsed and I cried because I know something bad had happened,” she said.
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“It was just horrible.”
Marshall was told her 23-year-old daughter Gabrielle Marshall, affectionately known as Gabbie, was murdered earlier that morning in Tasmania by a stranger.
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She was stabbed to death and died at the scene inside her friend’s house in Ulverstone, where she had been staying.
Marshall is now breaking her silence over her daughter’s murder ahead of the killer’s sentencing.
The last photo Gabbie took with her daughter. Credit: Supplied Gabbie had moved to Tasmania to start over. Credit: Supplied
“You may never think it’ll ever happen to you or your children or your family members at all,” she said.
“So, every time you leave the house … you must tell them you love them and give them the biggest hug ever because you might not ever see them again.”
About three weeks before she was murdered, Gabbie moved to Tasmania.
She was starting afresh in a new state and had job interviews lined up, her mum said.
She had plans for the future, including taking her daughter on a snow trip and buying a house.
“She was so excited,” Marshall said.
“And then the next thing she’s gone. All these dreams and hopes she had for her and her daughter just left.”
Gabbie Marshall was murdered in June 2021. Credit: Supplied Gabbie and her daughter. Credit: Supplied
As a young mum, Gabbie was energetic and fun, taking her daughter out to parks to play.
“She just loved her daughter so much,” her mum said.
“She was so good with her, she’d always make her laugh.”
Gabbie was the youngest of six siblings — the baby of the family.
“She was very bubbly and bright,” Marshall said.
“She had a really good heart … really kind. She was funny … she was just so beautiful, not only on the outside, but on the inside.”
Gabbie was the baby of the family. Credit: SuppliedGabbie as a young girl. Credit: Supplied
Now, more than two years on, her family still struggles to come to terms with her murder.
“Her older sister was so excited when she had a baby sister. They were so close,” Marshall said.
“It’s totally destroyed my family.
“It’s just really, really hard. The pain is constant.”
Early hour horror
In the three weeks she was in Tasmania, Gabbie had been staying with a friend and her friend’s young children.
Hours before she was murdered on the morning of June 15, 2021, she had been on a date with a new man.
He had picked her up, they’d gone to a party together, before he dropped her off at home. He is not the man responsible for Gabbie’s death.
Hours later, about 3am, Gabbie’s friend called triple-0 to report a man “prowling” inside the house, police said at the time.
When police arrived at the house, they discovered Gabbie’s body in a room.
She had been stabbed and died at the scene.
Gabbie moved to Tasmania for a fresh start. Credit: Supplied Gabbie and her daughter. Credit: Supplied
Her friend and her friend’s children are believed to have witnessed the horrific scenes.
“She did try to help her … but it was too late,” Marshall said.
Her friend moved away from Tasmania following the murder.
“I fell apart,” Marshall said of finding out her daughter had been murdered later that morning.
“(Gabbie’s) daughter heard everything. Her daughter knows who did what to her.
“This poor little girl, she was six at the time.”
At home now, Marshall has Gabbie’s urn and photos of her around the house so that her daughter can communicate with her.
Killer to learn fate
Colin William Drake, 37, was arrested that morning in a house on the same street Gabbie was killed and was charged with murder.
He and Gabbie weren’t known to each other and it’s believed the attack was random.
He initially pleaded not guilty to the charge, but last week changed his plea to guilty in a hearing in the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
Drake was remanded in custody and is expected to appear before the same court on October 23 for sentencing submissions.
Gabbie as a little girl with Santa in 2007. Credit: Supplied Gabbie and her daughter. Credit: Supplied
Marshall plans to travel to Tasmania to face her daughter’s killer.
“I want to face him and I want to tell him what he has done to the family,” she said.
“He’s taken away, not only a child, he’s taken away a mother, he’s taken away someone who would’ve been a grandmother one day… he’s taken away someone’s wife to be one day.
“He’s taken away all these things.”
Marshall hopes he is sentenced to the maximum penalty of life in prison.
– With AAP
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