Stockman 'stressed' when he killed boss
ROBERT John Wilson will be eligible for parole on the third anniversary of the day he killed his 88-year-old employer.
Yesterday afternoon, the 61-year-old stockman was found guilty of manslaughter but not murder over the death of grazier David Thornton after a Cairns Supreme Court jury believed his responsibility for the crime was diminished because of the severity of his bi-polar disorder. Wilson was given an eight-year sentence.
It came after a four-day trial during which it was revealed Wilson was not supposed to be at Mr Thornton's Mt Carbine property on March 12, 2010, when he hit the elderly man twice in the head with the blunt-end of an axe before shooting him at point-blank range.
His wife June Wilson, who outside court expressed relief proceedings were over, had planned to take him on a trip and never allow him to go back to the harsh conditions at Curraghmore Station, but the man who was to take over his duties was held up.
In sentencing, Justice Jim Henry said it was apparent Wilson was a "calm and caring person" whose position had evolved from a stockman to being a carer for Mr Thornton, whom many believed was suffering from the early stages of dementia.
"You became close to him ... you treated him very tenderly and with a high level of care," Justice Henry told Wilson.
"You even were at times heard to call him dad."
But Justice Henry said Mr Thornton, who lived on the station since the 1950s and had no wife or children, was a "difficult man".
"It must have tested even your patience over time," Justice Henry told the stockman.
"(You were) flat and exhausted ... with a heightened risk of failing to cope with the stress of dealing with the deceased and your mental illness."
Wilson has already served almost two years and eight months behind bars and has been receiving extensive mental health treatment.
He gave evidence that he did not remember why he killed Mr Thornton.
The jury found, and Justice Henry agreed, that he met the murder defence criteria of being substantially impaired when it came to the capacity to either understand or control what he did, and know that it was wrong.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
Relief: June Wilson leaves Cairns Supreme Court after her husband was jailed for manslaughter.