The Examiner’s court reporter CAROLINE TANG reviews the cases, crimes, controversies and tragedies of 2015.
Ice addict jailed for abhorrent child sex crimes
March: A judge jailed a Northern Tasmanian father for more than 14 years for depraved and degrading acts of gross sexual violence against children.
The paedophile, known as W for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to being the ringleader of three ice addicts who repeatedly drugged and sexually violated a group of children, including their own, for years.
W’s female co-offenders, known as G and T for legal reasons, were in a three-way relationship with W and were jailed in 2014 for their crimes, including the sexual abuse of their own children.
Man jailed for Ravenswood double murder
May: A jury found Marco Daniel Rusterholz guilty of the murders of Angela Maree Hallam and Joshua Eric Newman after a seven-week trial in the Supreme Court.
The couple’s stabbed and burnt remains were found after a unit fire in Pioneer Parade, Ravenswood, on August 15, 2012.
The Crown said Rusterholz murdered Ms Hallam, his ex-girlfriend, because of a drug debt she owed him and his desire to please a new lover. Mr Newman was murdered because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A judge jailed Rusterholz for 45 years. Rusterholz has launched an appeal against conviction.
Half-brothers jailed after fatal Mowbray Hotel fight
July: A jury found half-brothers Jay David Blazely and Mitchell Clay Dowling guilty of serious acts of violence against Tony David Brown and other patrons during a melee in the Mowbray Hotel on July 17, 2013.
Mr Brown died from his injuries. Neither Blazely nor Dowling was accused at trial of having killed him, because the Crown was unable to prove who struck the fatal blow or whether it was the combination of their punches that caused his death.
A judge jailed both men, and, with time already served, Blazely was granted parole in November. Dowling is due to be paroled this month.
Jail for Launceston drive-by shooting payback pair
September: A jury found Sean Gregory Richardson and Damien Wesley Marshall guilty of a revenge drive-by shooting that wounded a 19-year-old stranger on July 29, 2013, during a spike in firearm crime in Launceston.
The Crown argued that Richardson and Marshall wanted revenge against the Williams brothers because Stephen Williams probably shot Marshall in the leg at Rocherlea on May 28, 2013.
Robert Williams was on foot when the driver, Marshall, slowed down his Holden sedan and passenger Richardson fired seven shots from a revolver, all missing Mr Williams.
Richardson was jailed for five years and Marshall for four years. Both have appealed against their convictions.
Ice addict jailed for murdering his baby daughter
October: A judge jailed an ice addict after he pleaded guilty to the ill-treatment and murder of his daughter, who died at nine weeks and six days of age.
Azzali Dolcie-Marie Thomson died on February 6, 2014, from the horrific injuries repeatedly inflicted upon her by her father throughout her brief life .
Brett Andrew Kitchin was jailed for 21 years for murder and three years and six months for the ill-treatment of his daughter, with one year concurrent with his sentence for murder.
Man found guilty of attempted murder of his ex-wife
September: A jury in the Supreme Court took little more than 90 minutes to find Lokendra Singh guilty of the attempted murder of his ex-wife, a doctor.
Singh, armed with a serrated kitchen knife, slit Renu Singh’s throat three times and attempted to strangle and suffocate her in their Newnham home on February 11, 2014. He is in custody awaiting his plea in mitigation and sentence.
Dr Singh was falsely imprisoned and her Indian passport was wrongfully confiscated when she visited India late last year. She has launched legal proceedings in order to return to Australia.
Magistrate finds drunk punched policeman in self-defence
October: A magistrate found that a violent injured drunk acted in lawful self-defence when he punched and swore at a policeman helping to restrain him, because Launceston General Hospital staff sedated him after he refused treatment.
An aggressive Daniel John Morrison, who drank about 15 beers on April 24, 2014, was cleared of his assault of police and abusive language charges.
But Morrison was found guilty of kicking a paramedic in the face and threatening to kill him and his family. He was $700 for his violent rage.
Manslaughter hoon pleads guilty after his trial starts
November: Drugged, drunk hoon David Johnathan Holmyard pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of another motorist after his trial began in the Supreme Court.
Holmyard evaded police while fleeing Evandale at 109km/h in an 80km/h zone and he drove on the wrong side of Evandale Road for about 175 metres on November 7, 2014.
His Ford sedan, still in an 80km/h zone, became airborne at 174km/h for 21 metres and landed 64 metres away from Maureen Ann Flanagan’s Nissan utility.
Mrs Flanagan, who was metres from her driveway, died instantly when Holmyard hit her car at 170km/h at Western Junction.
Holmyard remains in custody awaiting his plea in mitigation and sentence.
No verdict for accused double murder accomplice
December: A jury was discharged in the trial of David Ronald Morgan, the accused accomplice to convicted double murderer Marco Daniel Rusterholz, because it was unable to reach a verdict.
Mr Morgan pleaded not guilty to the murders of Angela Maree Hallam and Joshua Eric Newman on August 15, 2012. The parties agreed that Rusterholz physically murdered the couple at Ravenswood.
The Crown, however, argued that Mr Morgan was criminally liable because he had formed an agreement with Rusterholz to ‘‘bash’’ Ms Hallam, while the defence asserted that Rusterholz acted alone.
Double fatality hay truck driver fined
December: A magistrate fined a careless truck driver $12,000 for a series of traffic offences after two loose hay bales flew off his load and one killed a Launceston couple on a motorcycle.
Prosecutors had determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Gerald Alfred Davis with the more serious charge of having caused the deaths of Tracie and Michael Pel by negligent driving.
The Pels were killed instantly at Lilydale on February 8, 2015.
Davis’ heavy vehicle and trailer were two tonnes overweight with an improperly restrained load and inoperative left brake and marker lights.
His four-month disqualification from driving was postponed to allow him to apply for a restricted driver licence this month.
Dishonest lawyer struck off legal roll
December: A judge found that a dishonest lawyer found guilty of stealing from his former employer had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that his name be struck off the roll of legal practitioners.
Justice Stephen Estcourt said Adrian John Hall was ‘‘not a fit and proper person to remain on the roll’’, although he had not lost sight of the exemplary features of Hall’s character’’ in respects other than honesty’’.
The suppression of Hall’s name had prevented media reporting of his court disciplinary proceedings until the Legal Profession Board’s application succeeded.
In November 2014 , a jury found Hall guilty of four counts of stealing from Launceston law firm Grant Tucker Barrister and Solicitor. His practising certificate was suspended the next day.
Hall was sentenced to a four-month suspended jail term and 210-hour community work order in December 2014 after Justice Estcourt determined that his crimes amounted to $2600 stolen.
Gunns insider trader to repay proceeds of crime
December: A judge ordered ex-Gunns director and chairman John Gay to pay $500,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act in relation to his conviction for insider trading.
Gay was convicted of insider trading and fined $50,000 in August 2013 on criminal charges brought and prosecuted by federal authorities.
The Commonwealth then launched civil proceedings against Gay and applied for a pecuniary penalty order for the amount of the benefit that Gay derived from his insider trading.
A judge found that Gay had derived a benefit from his offending by avoiding a loss and ordered mediation.
Gay agreed to pay $500,000 and the court formalised this agreement with an order.