The mother of a woman who was murdered by a stranger in a random attack while she was asleep inside her friend’s house in Tasmania says she is satisfied with the sentence handed to her daughter’s killer.
Colin William Drake, 37, was this week sentenced to life in prison, with a non-parole period of 20 years, in the Supreme Court of Tasmania for the murder of mother-of-one Gabrielle Marshall in June 2021.
The 23-year-old was stabbed 17 times inside her friend’s Ulverstone home as she slept on the floor.
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Her mother, Heidi Marshall, who lives in Queensland, watched the sentencing with the rest of Gabrielle’s family from a conference centre in Brisbane.
She said the day was mentally exhausting but the sentence handed down was “fair”.
“(The judge) has given him a term of his natural life in prison,” she said.
“I think that’s the best sentence that we could have got because that’s the maximum.
“He can only apply for (parole). It doesn’t mean he’s going to get it … I’ll be there to make sure he won’t.”
Gabrielle Marshall was killed as she was sleeping at a friend’s house. Credit: Supplied
Justice Tamara Jago said Drake presented a lifelong danger to the community and his capacity for rehabilitation was limited by his intellectual disability and personality traits.
She said Drake showed a “degree of cunning” after the murder and lied to his carers and police afterwards.
Justice Jago described the killing of the 23-year-old as one of the worst cases of murder.
“This was random violence committed against a stranger,” she said.
“The contempt the defendant showed towards another human being can only be regarded with repugnance.”
Gabrielle had intended to make a fresh start after leaving a bad relationship and work towards living with her then six-year-old daughter.
Drake, who lived about 200m down the road in assisted accommodation, broke a supervision order when he sneaked out in the early hours of the morning with two knives.
Gabrielle’s friend awoke to screaming and bangs coming from the living room.
She armed herself with a knife and confronted Drake whose face was covered in blood.
Drake, who was arrested the next day at the accommodation, said he broke a knife trying to fix a cupboard and the blade could not be retrieved because it was in too many pieces.
The blade was found under Gabrielle’s body.
Gabbie was murdered in June 2021. Credit: Supplied
Justice Jago said it was not possible to determine Drake’s motive.
She said he might have been driven by a fixation on obtaining cigarettes or sexual desire and might have picked the house because he knew women lived there.
“Whatever (the motivation) the end result was extreme violence upon a vulnerable victim,” Justice Jago said.
“(The attack was) frenzied and persistent.
“It must have been terrifying for Ms Marshall.”
Marshall said she was glad the court process had come to an end for her family.
“But I have still been trying to process what happened to my little girl … and I know that’s going to take years,” she said.
“It’s just really horrible.
“We’ll never forget … it has destroyed my whole family.
“But she’ll always be in our hearts no matter what.”
Gabbie and her daughter. Credit: Supplied
Tasmania’s parole board will decide if Drake is ever safe to be released.
A mental health report in June 2021 noted Drake engaged poorly with rules, had assaulted a carer and had dangerous implements in his room.
It also noted there were not sufficient resources to manage him in the community.
Drake, who was charged with aggravated burglary and arson in 2012, had a childhood of neglect and deprivation, Justice Jago said.
He will be eligible for parole in 2041.
– With AAP