LISTEN: Murdered woman's mum speaks about killer's release

A SOARING seagull looks down from the lounge room wall of Lara Ashcroft's mum's house.

Every time she looks up at it, she is reminded of her daughter and best friend - a beautiful, bubby 23-year-old.

The image of the seagull, snapped by Lara with the camera her mum gave her on her 21st birthday, was meant to be a Mother's Day present.

A present Lara's mum, who preferred not to be named, said her daughter never had the chance to give her because her life was cut short by Stephen Wayne Robson.

"Lara had told my other daughter she was going to give me the photo for Mother's Day," her mum said.

"She actually told my other daughter where it (the photo negative) was and when she was murdered we found it in the top drawer of her bedside table."

April 7 marked 15 years since Robson murdered Lara by strangling and running her over next to the DPI on the Yeppoon to Rockhampton Rd after tricking her into a meeting at a Rockhampton motel.

Robson, a self-confessed conman and known gambler, owed Lara $45,000 and had lured her to the motel and ultimately her death by telling her he had the money.

Tears flowed as Lara's mum recalled the time leading up to her daughter's death.

"Lara and I worked together at a freight company and spent a lot of time together there. She moved on and did secretary work at Tucker and Nankivell and that's where she met him (Robson)," she said.

"We became a little bit distant for a while. It was close to that time that I had a tumour. I had the tumour removed and Lara and I got back together.

A mother's tribute to her murdered daughter Lara. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
A mother's tribute to her murdered daughter Lara. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

"When I was a little bit better she'd say 'come on mum, get your gear on, we're going dancing at the (Great) Western.

"Life kept on being busy and we kept being friends even though she was with him. It was like the tumour had brought us back together."

With Lara acquiring $50,000 from a workplace injury claim, her mum said she warned her daughter Robson was after her money.

Devastatingly, Lara's mum's suspicions about Robson were correct.

"Lara came over one afternoon and told me she had split up with him," she said.

"I was like, okay, what is going on, and she told me he had taken $45,000 of hers, she'd had a deed drawn up and he had gone out of town.

"We spent a fair bit of time together that week and then she came to see me early on the Saturday morning with a friend and she looked absolutely gorgeous.

"She sat outside and had a smoke and then she said she had to go because she had to find somewhere else to live. Before she left me she kissed me and said 'mum I'll ring you later'.

"We were going to go out for tea and dancing. So I waited and waited and then I got a phone call to say they (Lara and Robson) had met up, that he said he had the money for her that he'd taken.

"Then people started coming and saying she was missing. Then at midnight they came and told me she'd been found out at the DPI.

"It's just like it was only yesterday and I guess it will be like that until the day I die."

It didn't take long for the police to catch up with Robson and upon his arrest he confessed to Lara's murder.

As court proceedings followed, Robson's dark past was revealed and Lara's mum said she couldn't believe what her daughter had gotten herself into.

After accessing court documents, she discovered disturbing evidence to show Robson had allegedly attempted to abduct another former partner in 1992 by tricking the woman into driving to a deserted area near the Woolwash.

In a police statement, the woman said Robson had pulled a gun on her but she was able to escape when Robson got out of the car to vomit.

A search of the car revealed a knife, scissors, a pack of bullets and masking tape hidden underneath the passenger seat.

Robson pleaded guilty to Lara's murder and was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

>>LISTEN: Daughter of convicted killer speaks out

It was the 15th anniversary of Lara's death when her family was notified Robson was to be released from prison on April 11.

Knowing her daughter's killer is now a free man is something Lara's mum is still trying to come to terms with.

>>LISTEN: Convicted Rockhampton killer walks free after 15 years

"I'm not coping. I've had to extend my holidays. I took holidays in case because we knew it was coming up," she said.

"In November last year I had to do a submission to say I didn't wish that he live anywhere near here in fear of running into him and what I would do if he came into my workplace.

"I appreciate the parole board not letting that happen but it's only going to be for five years.

"I don't know whether he's going to sneak back in or not.

"That's what he did the night her murdered her. He came into town and booked in under a different name and it was only for her telling someone what she was doing and who she was meeting, we probably wouldn't have known.

"I've rung the prison to ask 'does he have a beard? What does he look like?' and they say it's not allowed.

"It smacks you back in the face to know that he has rights. He has no rights to me; the night he took her life he lost all his rights.

"He has to live with what he has done. He did it, there's no denying it. He killed for no reason.

"I think everyone has a right to know that we do have murderers out here that should not be anywhere near the families.

"He owes this family. He owes this family $45,000 for her estate."

Convicted murderer Stephen Robson
Convicted murderer Stephen Robson

While Lara's mum can't change what happened to her daughter, she hopes to help other families from enduring the same fate.

"Nothing is like losing a child.

"I try to help as much as I can. Please listen to your kids. Kids, listen to your mum," she said.

"If she listened to me, this wouldn't be."

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