The family of Gabriella Delaney, who was murdered when she was just 20 years old, has told of the pain at having her life being brutally cut short.
A court was told on Thursday that Ms Delaney was killed with a hammer by her elder brother Lucas, who was an “extensive” drug user and claims to only partially remember the incident.
Ms Delaney’s body was found in June 2020, several days after her death, in a western Sydney home she shared with the brother who was 30 years old at the time.
Lucas Delaney pleaded guilty to her murder and faced the NSW Supreme Court for a sentencing hearing on Thursday.
“The offender intentionally and repeatedly struck the victim in the head with a hammer,” Crown prosecutor Rossi Kotsis said.
In one account, Mr Delaney claimed he had thought he was with a person he had met online, started swinging the tool, looked down and realised it was his sister.
Prior to Ms Delaney’s body being found, Delaney admitted himself to a mental health facility and remains on antipsychotic medication.
Medical assessments of Delaney found that he showed signs of schizoaffective disorder that could be exacerbated by the use of drugs such as ice and cannabis, of which he was a heavy user.
One mental health expert stated in a written submission that Delaney “clearly is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he alone caused his sister’s death.”
“It is understandable he’s seeking a mental illness-based explanation,” they said.
During the hearing, family members wept as they read victim impact statements painting Ms Delaney as a talented artist and loving person with a lot to offer the world.
Younger sister Rebecca Delaney said Gabriella was planning on moving to live with her in Perth prior to her death.
“She was the sister that everyone would wish for. Gabby was a talented artist. All she cared about and what she stayed true to was her heart, her soul and her passion,” she said.
“Growing up in a broken home, with a broken relationship with my mother, I’m so grateful I had an older sister who stood up for me.
“I am devastated the world will never be able to experience the gifts Gabby could have bestowed upon it.”
Rebecca Delaney also spoke of conflicts within the family that she described as “toxic”.
“With my sister now dead I watched my family fall further apart. I now realise it was probably for the best. This family is far too toxic for us to be together,” she said.
Daniel Delaney, Gabriella’s elder brother who lived nearby at the time of her murder, said he regretted not finding her sooner.
“There were signs that something was wrong, but my sister was exploring life … and so she had her own space and it would not be unusual to not see her for a couple of days here and there,” he said.
He also recalled the moment he and elder brother Jared found their younger sister’s body.
“I tried to go in the room and uncover her but my brother stopped me,” he said.
“On the phone they told me to check if my sister was still breathing, but I knew she’d been dead for days.”
Speaking directly to her elder brother, Rebecca said, “Whilst I have so much anger and hatred for what you did, you were once my brother, so I can only hope you take this opportunity and use the resources available to you to better yourself.”
Lucas Delaney remains in custody while he awaits sentencing.