Family of murdered Lottah man Dean Manshanden describe ‘unbearable’ grief after 2016 shooting

DEVASTATED: Lesley Manshanden leaving court on Thursday afternoon. Pictures: Paul Scambler
DEVASTATED: Lesley Manshanden leaving court on Thursday afternoon. Pictures: Paul Scambler

“The sight of my son in his coffin will stay with me forever.”

Those were the words said by a devastated mother in the Launceston Supreme Court after her son’s killer was found guilty of murder.

Lesley Manshanden told the court part of her had been taken away when her 47-year-old son, Dean Manshanden, was shot in the back of the head last year.

His neighbour, Kerry Alexander Bilston, was on trial over the past two weeks, claiming he did not intentionally kill Mr Manshanden.

Throughout the trial the jury heard a dispute over property boundaries was at the centre of the murder, with Bilston claiming his victim had harassed and bullied him for months.

After shooting him on October 15, Bilston phoned triple-0 and told the operator he “just snapped”.

But on Thursday afternoon, after more than five hours of deliberation across two days, the jury unanimously decided Bilston was a murderer. 

Mr Manshanden's body was found on his Lottah property in October last year. Picture: Supplied

Mr Manshanden's body was found on his Lottah property in October last year. Picture: Supplied

Bilston sat silently in the dock as the verdict was read out, while Mr Manshanden’s family cried in the back of the room.

Mrs Manshanden walked to the front of the court to share her heartache, reading out her victim impact statement to Justice Robert Pearce.

Describing her “precious son Dean”, she recalled the day she learned he had been killed.

“It was horror … I wondered how I would cope,” she said.

With her brother standing beside her, having to physically hold her up, Mrs Manshanden wept as she told Justice Pearce her “whole family is shattered”.

“The sight of my son in his coffin will stay with me all my life … I feel so alone,” she said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates read out a statement on behalf of Mr Manshanden’s father, Peter Manshanden.

CLOSURE: Dean Manshanden's family leaves court together after the jury handed down its verdict.

CLOSURE: Dean Manshanden's family leaves court together after the jury handed down its verdict.

“Dean must have been absolutely petrified when he realised Mr Bilston had a gun,” he wrote.

Describing his son’s death as “violent and unnecessary”, Mr Manshanden said he struggled daily to understand why he was killed.

“I miss my son terribly,” he said.

Mr Manshanden’s sister then stood beside the dock where Bilston continued to sit expressionless.

Gina Manshanden described the shooting as the “worst tragedy that has ever happened” to her family.

“And Dean is not here to help me through it,” she said, sobbing as she shared her statement.

“I will never forgive the man who took him away.”

The final statement came from Mr Manshanden’s partner, Trina Kejna, who was a witness on the trial.

HEARTBROKEN: Trina Kejna leaves the Launceston Supreme Court after her partner's killer was found guilty of his murder.

HEARTBROKEN: Trina Kejna leaves the Launceston Supreme Court after her partner's killer was found guilty of his murder.

“My heart is broken, my future was stolen from me,” she said.

“My heart aches for Dean. I’ve lost the love of my life.”

Making sentencing submissions, Mr Coates said he “accepted it was obviously not a premeditated killing”.

“He went up there in a rage … he just lost his temper,” he said.

Mr Coates said Bilston acted “out of his normal character” and he accepted he was an otherwise “good person”. 

Defence lawyer Greg Hoare described it as being at the “lower end of the scale” and said “the loss of control was spontaneous”.

Bilston was remanded in custody until February when he is expected to be sentenced.