23 years for Tunks

RARE scenes of jubilation and sadness greeted the sentencing of Mathew Patrick Tunks for murdering his on-and-off girlfriend Jessica Ann Kupsch in a Launceston motel room this year.

In the Launceston Supreme Court yesterday, Tunks, who pleaded guilty, was given 23 years' jail with a non-parole period of 13 1/2 years by Chief Justice Ewan Crawford.

As he was led away Miss Kupsch's family cheered and clapped the sentence, hugging Launceston CIB detectives who had worked on the case.

Miss Kupsch's mother, Donna, who wore a white ribbon against domestic violence, also had words for Tunks: "God will never forgive you."

Her daughter was stomped and punched to death in August at the Penny Royal, the court heard.

It was meant to be a romantic night for the turbulent couple who shared an eight-month-old child and six years of de facto relationship, punctuated by episodes of domestic violence.

An aggravating factor in the murder was Tunks being on a family violence order the night he killed Miss Kupsch, 29, in what Justice Crawford called a "brutal crime".

"I note than an imprint of his shoe was left on her chest," Justice Crawford said.

Following an afternoon of drinking by both and some Valium, Tunks turned on his partner after she made what he regarded as a "smug" comment.

He couldn't remember exactly what she had said but it was enough for him to kill the mother of four with  "severe blunt trauma injuries to the face, head and neck".

Afterwards he didn't call an ambulance but tried unsuccessfully to clean up the blood.

He called a friend for help, confessed to her, changed his clothes and went outside. The friend called police, who found him nearby.

Tunks made a full admission to police 18 days later except to underestimate the number of times that he had hit Miss Kupsch.

Although forensic pathologist Donald Ritchie told the court that it was a "very savage attack", Justice Crawford could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that Tunks had meant to kill her.

Instead he "either knew, or he certainly ought to have known, that he was likely to cause her death".

In delivering his sentence, Justice Crawford said Tunks's criminal record included seven assaults, several against Miss Kupsch, four family violence orders, all concerning her, wounding and armed robbery.

Aggravating the offence was the fact that the murder had occurred just six weeks after Tunks was given 11 months' jail, which was suspended in lieu of a drug treatment program.

Justice Crawford said the murder's effect on Miss Kupsch's children and mother was "profound".

Later Mrs Kupsch was relieved that Tunks was "off the streets" and said she was happy with the sentence.

"It will never be right what he did," she said outside the court.

"If anyone is in a domestic violence situation, get out now. He threatened my daughter over and over until he killed her, so get out now."

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