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Convicted cousin killer to be sentenced in court

Caroline Widgell was stabbed to death by her cousin John Henry Brown in Wilsonton Heights in 2013.
Caroline Widgell was stabbed to death by her cousin John Henry Brown in Wilsonton Heights in 2013.

CONVICTED killer John Henry Brown has been found not guilty of murdering his cousin Caroline Widgell but guilty of her manslaughter.

Brown, 33, pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder arising from the death of his cousin Caroline Widgell, 28, who was stabbed in the chest at a Seppelt St address in Wilsonton Heights just after 9pm, July 4, 2013.

In his closing address, Brown's barrister Robbie Davies invited the jury to find his client guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Davies said it was not in dispute that his client had caused Ms Widgell's chest wound which led to her death.

However, the issue was whether he had intended to kill her.

Mr Davies said if there was any rational hypothesis consistent with innocence, the jury must acquit his client of murder.

"What he is guilty of, ladies and gentlemen, is manslaughter," Mr Davies submitted to the jury.

Crown prosecutor Mark Whitbread argued that by the evidence put before the trial John Brown had intended to kill Ms Widgell or at least cause her grievous bodily harm.

Brown had been staying nearby at a Lindemann Crt home of his cousin and had arrived on foot at the Seppelt St residence and went straight to the back yard where Ms Widgell and others were gathered.

After calling her away to the front yard where the pair was alone, he had stabbed her "one quick and sudden blow to the chest", Mr Whitbread said.

Ms Widgell had turned away and walked back to the house, telling her cousin "John stabbed me, Cuz".

Mr Davies made a defence admission that a steak knife found in the front yard soon after the incident had blood on its blade that was DNA matched to Ms Widgell.

Mr Whitbread submitted similar steak knives were found in the kitchen drawer at Lindemann Crt where Brown had been staying, suggesting he had taken the knife to the Seppelt St address, suggesting intent.

Brown had left the scene after the incident and was found later that night in Wine Drive Park not far away, he said.

When challenged by police, Brown had immediately fallen to his knees and put his hands behind his head, telling police "Just put me in jail", Mr Whitbread submitted.

During a subsequent police interview, Brown had told a detective "I killed my cousin, does that mean anything", he said.

The jury retired to consider a verdict at 2.43pm but returned at 4.23pm with a question for Justice Peter Lyons seeking clarification of murder as opposed to manslaughter.

The jury then retired for another half-hour before returning with a verdict of not guilty on murder but guilty of manslaughter.

By its verdict the jury had not accepted John Brown had intended to kill Ms Widgell despite plunging the knife into her left chest to a depth of 7cm and leaving a 16mm by 7mm wound.

She was pronounced dead soon after being rushed to hospital.

Justice Lyons adjourned sentence until this morning and remanded Brown in custody.

Topics:  editors picks john henry brown manslaughter murder toowoomba wilsonton heights



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