De facto's guilty plea

A BALLINA man who beat his de facto wife to death in February last year pleaded guilty yesterday to her manslaughter by means of provocation.

Bradley James Stevens, 43, made the plea during a Supreme Court sitting held in Lismore Courthouse.

In facts tendered to the court it was revealed Stevens' seven-year relationship with Katrina Ann McMahon was often violent, with both addicted to hard drugs.

Their relationship deteriorated even further soon after their second child was born in December, 2006.

Stevens complained Ms McMahon was unfaithful to him and using drugs instead of caring for their children.

Ms McMahon had complained to others of Stevens' violence, his drug use and how unsafe she felt at home.

On February 23 last year, Ms McMahon went to a pharmacy to get her daily methadone dose.

The pharmacist declined to give the dose, but suggested she see someone about a bruise on her nose and dried blood in her left ear.

Ms McMahon then went to the Australian Hotel in Ballina where she was seen by numerous people to be distressed and 'out of it' as if she was on drugs, even though she was not seen to have drunk any alcohol or to have taken her prescribed dose of methadone.

Witnesses offered to take Ms McMahon to hospital after seeing her doubled over and holding her left side.

One witness heard her saying Stevens had beaten her and she did not want to return home.

At midday witnesses describe Stevens arriving at the hotel with the couple's baby under his arm, hitting Ms McMahon across the face before dragging her out to a car driven by his father.

Stevens and Ms McMahon went to his father's house, where his sister offered to take the children for the day, before Stevens assisted Ms McMahon to walk the short distance to their house about 2.30pm.

By 10.30pm Ms McMahon was dead.

Stevens made a triple-0 call at 10.28pm and when police and ambulance officers arrived at their home they found Ms McMahon lying on the lounge room floor with Stevens trying to resuscitate her.

He told police Ms McMahon had taken a double dose of methadone, but a post-mortem examination of Ms McMahon revealed she had not taken any methadone that day.

There were also 76 injuries to Ms McMahon's body, with those about her face and head being consistent with her being grabbed by the hair and her head being repeatedly bashed on a hard surface.

Ms McMahon received two fatal blows, one to her head and one to her abdomen.

The abdominal injury, which ruptured her spleen, bled slowly causing her drowsiness, then unconsciousness, and finally cardiac arrest.

The Crown pathologist believed if the abdominal injury did not kill her the head injury would have.

In Lismore Supreme Court, Justice Peter Hall adjourned the hearing to Sydney on December 5, when Stevens will be sentenced.


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