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A gunman who killed a Brisbane mother-of-two in a robbery gone wrong could be behind bars for little more than a year before he is eligible for parole.
Stafford Anthony Emmerson, 44, was convicted of manslaughter last month after a six-day Brisbane Supreme Court trial, with a jury deliberating for only four hours before finding him guilty.
Stafford Anthony Emmerson. Credit: Queensland Police Service
The victim, 40-year-old Megan Kirley, died at a semi-rural property on Wembley Road in Karawatha, on Brisbane’s southern outskirts, about 3am on February 9, 2019.
Cameron Lindsay Witoko, 31, Kobi Daniel Oram, 25, and Emma Louise Hinds, 45, each received nine-year sentences for manslaughter.
Geoffrey Dale Granz Glenn, 35, was due to stand trial with Emmerson, but he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in May and will be sentenced later this year.
The victim, Megan Kirley. Credit: Facebook
In outlining the facts of the case, crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac said Kirley lived with her partner, Pieter Pickering, in a shipping container on the Karawatha property.
At the time, only one of the two metal doors on the container could open. There was no other access. The surrounding property was covered in thick bushland.
Kovac said earlier that night, the five offenders had broken into two other locations and stolen money to buy drugs. Police alleged they intended to steal cash from the shipping container.
Emmerson was carrying a rifle.
Kirley and Pickering heard a car arrive. Pickering armed himself with nunchukkas. He stood near the container’s doors ready, while Kirley was behind him.
Pickering saw fingers coming through the small gap between the metal doors. One of the doors then started to open.
Kovac said Pickering swung his nunchukkas towards the door and the hand that was pulling it open. As he did so, he heard a loud bang and felt “a hot wind” pass by his head. The group then fled.
Pickering found Kirley slumped against a bed with a single wound to the upper neck. She died at the scene.
Megan Kirley with her two sons. Credit: Facebook
Emmerson told police that when Pickering struck with his nunchukkas, he got scared and pulled the trigger the gun.
Barrister Tim Ryan, representing Emmerson, said his client had started drinking heavily at age 11, began using heroin at age 14 before later moving onto cannabis and methamphetamine.
He described Emmerson as a drug and alcohol addict.
Regarding Kirley’s death, Ryan said Emmerson was handed the gun by someone else, and he did not check whether it was loaded. Emmerson said he did not expect anyone to be inside the container.
“He effectively took fright to the unexpected movements of Mr Pickering [swinging his nunchukkas] and at the point in time when the gun was discharged, it was pointed in a particular direction and at a particular angle that led to the results that occurred,” Ryan said.
In sentencing on Wednesday, Judge Frances Williams recognised Emmerson had served 1236 days in pre-sentence custody – almost 3½ years.
Judge Williams sentenced Emmerson to nine years in prison, but made no order about his parole eligibility, meaning he could be released after serving half of his sentence – 4½ years.