A young man who stomped and kicked his partner to death at the back of a Broome shopping centre has been jailed for life over the “appalling” murder.
Les McLarty, 21, was drunk when he murdered 23-year-old Ms Chapman, whose first name is not used for cultural reasons, in Broome on March 17 last year.
Ms Chapman’s battered body was found in an alcove at Paspaley Plaza Shopping Centre the following morning.
A sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court was today told McLarty and Ms Chapman, who had been in a relationship for six years, had been drinking heavily at Broome’s Male Oval before going to the shopping centre that evening to have sex.
Afterwards, an argument between the pair broke out, during which McLarty kicked and jumped on Ms Chapman’s head and body as she lay on the ground.
Sentencing McLarty, Justice Lindy Jenkins said McLarty went home and left Ms Chapman injured and dying on the ground in an undignified fashion.
“She was found by passers-by in that degrading position, which must have been how you left her,” she said.
“You showed a complete lack of respect for her and her dignity.”
McLarty pleaded not guilty to murder but was convicted of the charge after a trial in Broome in August. Justice Jenkins found McLarty did not intend to kill Ms Chapman but did intend to cause a life-threatening injury.
“You violently killed your young partner for no other reason than that you were angry with her for a reason you are apparently now unable to remember,” she said.
“The victim was a vulnerable person who should have expected you to look after her and protect her.”
The court was told McLarty had four previous convictions for wounding or assaulting Ms Chapman between 2014 and 2016.
Justice Jenkins described the killing as an “appalling assault” and said it was also “appalling” when a woman is used as an object for her partner to “vent their own anger”.
“It is not a good thing at all that you have four convictions prior for hurting the deceased, and this final assault became a fatal one,” Justice Jenkins told McLarty.
McLarty’s lawyer Tony Hager said Ms Chapman’s death was a tragedy, saying it was a “very said example of a melancholic tale of the poisonous effects of alcohol”.
Mr Hager said McLarty did not appreciate the seriousness of Ms Chapman’s injuries when he left her. He said he now accepts responsibility for the murder and was sorry for the hurt he had caused Ms Chapman’s family.
“Through his own actions he has lost the person he loved most in his life,” he said.
Justice Jenkins said in a victim impact statement, Ms Chapman’s mother described how upset she was that her daughter died so young and did not have a chance to have her own children.
The court was told McLarty had a disadvantaged upbringing marred with domestic abuse and alcohol and drug use, and had a long criminal record.
Justice Jenkins said she took McLarty’s youth and deprived background into account when deciding his 17-year non-parole period, as well as his “low-level of intellectual functioning”.
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