Shandee Blackburn.
Shandee Blackburn. Michaela Harlow

INQUEST: Barrister hits back at fake memory loss claim

UPDATE: THE barrister for the man acquitted of Shandee Blackburn's murder has ripped into damning submissions that his client killed his former girlfriend in a carefully calculated and frenzied attack.

Kristy Bell, for the Blackburn family, accused John Peros of murdering the 23 year old as she told Coroner David O'Connell her theory of how Shandee died.

Mr Peros was charged with murder in 2014 and acquitted by a jury in 2017.

He denies any involvement in her death.

Barrister Craig Eberhardt, for Mr Peros, argued many of Ms Bell's submissions had not been put to his client when he was questioned on day five of the inquest.

Mr Eberhardt told the inquest Ms Bell's theory contained "factual errors, grandstanding and hyperbole" as she made "serious accusations" against his client.

A coronial inquest into Shandee's death heard Mr Peros had ended the relationship with the 23 year old.

The inquest so far:

Mr Eberhardt said while it was "relatively common for people who are jilted" to attack their former spouse, "it goes against all human appearance that the person who ends the relationship … then feels the need to commit a terrible act on them".

Mr Eberhardt told Mr O'Connell that in 2017 a jury had heard all the evidence against Mr Peros and had "reached the conclusion in very quick time they were not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt".

"There is no evidence in this case that John Peros was physically violent or threatened violence (against Shandee)," Mr Eberhardt said, arguing that Ms Bell had tried to paint it as "some incredibly violent relationship".

Mr Eberhardt attacked Ms Bell's submissions about Mr Peros' mental health, arguing that just because he sought help did not make him a danger to the community.

"Those types of tired, hackneyed … prejudice against people with mental health issues have no place in court," he said.

He said it was a "bold assertion that Mr Peros was feigning memory loss" to avoid giving an explanation of his movements on the night Shandee was killed.

Mr Eberhardt said his client had mentioned memory loss issues back in 2012 before Shandee's death and he hoped Ms Bell would withdraw her submissions that Mr Peros faked his memory loss.

Mr Eberhardt said there was also no evidence to suggest that Mr Peros knew Ms Blackburn had returned to Mackay.

Mr Peros told the inquest the first he knew Shandee had returned was when someone told him she was dead.

Mr Eberhardt said it was impossible to say, based on the evidence, the attack on Shandee was a carefully planned ambush.

He told the court the circumstances surrounding her death were well established but what remained a mystery was the identity of her killer.

He maintained there was a compelling case against William Daniel, who he accused during the inquest of killing Shandee in a robbery gone wrong.

Mr Eberhardt said frenzied attacks were also committed by drugged up offenders during robberies.

Mr Daniel has never been charged and denies any involvement in Shandee's death.

Mr Eberhardt's submissions continue tomorrow.

'It took him less than a minute to end Shandee's life'

THE solicitor for Shandee Blackburn's family has told a coronial inquest that evidence pointed to the 23 year-old's former boyfriend John Peros as being her killer.

Kristy Bell today detailed her theory into what happened just after midnight on February 9, 2013 when Shandee was stabbed to death on Boddington St.

Mr Peros was charged in 2014 but acquitted in 2017 of Shandee's murder.

"It took Mr Peros less than a minute to end Shandee's life," Ms Bell today told Coroner David O'Connell.

"The frenzied nature of the attack that shocked even a pathologist of 30 years' experience must have been more than a robbery gone wrong in my submission.

"It was a vicious, personal and angry assault; a result of deteriorating mental health and excessive ruminations attributing blame for his relationship failings to one person … and that was Shandee."

Ms Bell told a coronial inquest that Shandee started work at Harrup Park Country Club at 5pm on February 8; at 10.18pm Mr Peros switched off his phone.

Shandee began walking to her home on Boddington St at 11.59pm and at the same time sent a text to her then boyfriend Arron Macklin.

Ms Bell said at 12.07.48am Mr Peros drove past Shandee and turned into 18th Lane beside the United Service Station with various CCTV cameras tracking his Toyota Hilux onto 12th Lane, Shakespeare St and then back onto Sydney St before he parked near Struthers.

"Within a minute of parking his vehicle … your honour would find that it is Mr Peros who is observed moving amongst the trees in the guide hut area … shifting to avoid the lights of oncoming vehicles while he lay in wait for Shandee," Ms Bell said.

 

security footage of Shandee Blackburn leaving Harrup Park Country club with her handbag.

Photo contributed
security footage of Shandee Blackburn leaving Harrup Park Country club with her handbag. Photo contributed

Shandee is seen on CCTV footage walking along Juliet St towards Boddington St at 12.12am.

"As Shandee approaches the darkened corner of Boddington and Juliet Sts, Mr Peros sprints across Hamet St towards her at 12.14.02am," Ms Bell said.

"He grabs Shandee, restraining her as he begins a frenzied attack. Some of the first of the vicious 23 blows are so severe as to chip out a piece of skull and sever her larynx so she is concussed and unable to scream."
Ms Bell said the attack was interrupted by taxi driver Jaspreet Pandher, who is the only witness to see something the night Shandee died, at 12.14.27am.

She said as he did a u-turn Mr Pandher then saw Mr Peros sprint back towards his vehicle.

The inquest heard Mr Peros turned his phone back on at 8.10am on February 9.

Ms Bell said Mr Peros and Shandee had a six-month relationship that ended in March 2012.

"The evidence supports a finding that the relationship between Mr Peros and Ms Blackburn … was marred by domestic violence," Ms Bell said, adding there was no evidence it was physical violence.

Mr Peros has denied any involvement in Shandee's death. The inquest heard he told police that he may have taken a drive the night Shandee died but couldn't really recall what he did. He told police he believed he watched television.

He had said he turned his phone off so his sleep was not interrupted and so his friends could not call him up to go out because he did not have the money.

Ms Bell said Shandee had called Mr Peros "weird, sick and nasty" to her mother, sister and step father.

"She told her mother he had a split personality and that she couldn't believe how quickly he would snap. She was afraid as to how far his anger would go," Ms Bell said.

"Shandee's family described Mr Peros as sly, manipulative, odd and violent."

The inquest heard about a document detailing the things Mr Peros disliked about Shandee", which Ms Bell said provided an insight into his thoughts toward the young woman.

"It provides a degrading and disgusting diatribe in which he berates Shandee about her conduct in previous relationships.

"He labels this young woman as nothing more than an object for sexual gratification, who dared to assert herself against him."

The court heard when their relationship ended, Shandee moved to the Gold Coast in about April 2012.

Ms Bell suggested this move was at the insistence of Mr Peros.

She returned to Mackay in about October 2012.

Medical evidence tendered during the inquest revealed Mr Peros had received ongoing counselling sessions with a psychiatrist and psychologist following the breakdown of his relationship with Shandee.

"On any interpretation of the evidence Mr Peros was affected by his relationship with Shandee in a way that he had never seen before," Ms Bell said.

Murder victim Shandee Blackburn who died after an incident on Boddington Street in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Photo Contributed
Murder victim Shandee Blackburn who died after an incident on Boddington Street in the early hours of Saturday morning. Photo Contributed Contributed

"So much so that he ceased work and received income protection insurance … up to at least August 2012."

Ms Bell said there was evidence to suggest Mr Peros knew Shandee had returned to Mackay, despite the fact he repeatedly said the first he knew of her return was when he was informed of her death.

Ms Bell said a noteworthy point of interest in relation to Mr Peros' medical history "is the total absence of any complaint" regarding his memory loss or difficulty in the medical documents tendered during the inquest.

"Mr Peros has never before provided a satisfactory explanation for his whereabouts in the early hours of the morning (of) February 9, 2013, despite having ample opportunity to do so," Ms Bell said.

"He was again afforded the opportunity in this inquest having the benefit of an acquittal behind him and the claim of privilege to protect him from self-incrimination."

Ms Bell suggested Mr Peros' claims he could not remember what he did the night Shandee died was "one of many lies he told" that demonstrate a consciousness of guilt, and that his claims during the inquest of memory difficulty was "a deliberate fabrication".

She said it was "bordering on laughable" to suggest the the vehicle of interested captured on CCTV around the time and place where Shandee was killed was any other than the Toyota Hilux owned by Mr Peros.

"A verdict of not guilty is not … a verdict of innocence," Ms Bell said, in relation to the 2017 acquittal by a jury.
Ms Bell said the evidence pointed to a finding that Mr Peros had committed murder.
More to come.

Shandee Blackburn inquest: Finger pointed at 'one person'

COUNSEL Assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen has suggested "one person and one person alone" was responsible for killing Shandee Blackburn with the evidence "by way of appropriate inference", pointing towards the man acquitted of her murder.

Shandee's former boyfriend John Peros was arrested in September 2014 and found not guilty in 2017 of the 23 year old's death.

He has denied any involvement.

Mr Aberdeen suggested Mr Peros was driving his Toyota Hilux the night she was killed six minutes before her death and 95 metres from the scene of the crime.

Coroner David O'Connell has been asked to pay "close attention" to two things when determining Mr Peros' possible involvement.

These are comments allegedly said during an Australia Day party in January 2013 and a vehicle of interest captured on CCTV cameras in the area before and after Shandee was stabbed up to 25 times about  12.15am on February 9, 2013.

Three witnesses told a coronial inquest they heard Mr Peros say words to the effect of "I hate that c***" in relation to Shandee.

One  witness told the court Mr Peros had said he would "love to stab the c***", also in relation to Shandee.
Mr Peros, while giving evidence during the inquest, said he could not recall making the comments.

 

John Peros leaves the Mackay Court House during the inquest into the death of Shandee Blackburn on July 2, 2019.
John Peros leaves the Mackay Court House during the inquest into the death of Shandee Blackburn on July 2, 2019. Caitlan Charles

 

Mr Aberdeen said comparison images between a vehicle of interest driven the night Shandee died not far from Boddington St and Mr Peros' vehicle was "compelling evidence".

"The similarities in my submission are striking," Mr Aberdeen said.

Investigating officers performed a re-enactment using Mr Peros' Hilux, which was seized by police twice, where it was captured by CCTV in the same locations a vehicle of interest.

The vehicle of interest was seen to park near Struthers and remain there for six minutes at about 12.09am.

Shortly after a CCTV camera from a home on Juliet St captured a movement in the bushes outside the guides hut on the opposite side of the road. Minutes later Shandee is seen walking past at 12.12am.

Mr Aberdeen said the the comparison showed "how the camera reads and produces the image of Mr Peros' vehicle".

He said there was enough evidence to find the vehicle of interest was Mr Peros' Toyota Hilux and to infer that he was driving his vehicle.

Mr Aberdeen said there was also enough evidence to find Mr Peros vehicle stopped near the guides hut and "remained in that area for six minutes and six seconds".

"During which at 12.10.28am, that is one minute and 10 seconds after the vehicle passes out of view behind the guides hut ... there is the first sight of movement in the bushes around the guides hut," he said.

Mr Aberdeen said it was open for the coroner to find that the person who was in the bushes was also the person who ran across the road at 12.14.01am.

"And it was the same person who ran back across the road at 12.14.46am," he said.

"I've also made submissions your honour that the person who ran across the road ... was the person responsible for causing Shandee's injuries."

Mr Aberdeen said evidence supported "Mr Peros' involvement in the attack on Shandee".
Addresses continue.

BEFORE: Theories presented: What happened to Shandee?

LEGAL parties involved in the Shandee Blackburn inquest will this morning put forward their theories about what happened to Coroner David O'Connell.

The 23 year old was brutally stabbed to death on Boddington St about 12.15am on February 9, 2013 as she walked home after finishing a shift at Harrup Park Country Club.

The walk, which she had done many times before, took her about 15 or 16 minutes.

CCTV cameras captures parts of what would become her final journey.

More than 40 witnesses have been called to give evidence during the inquest into her death, which has been the next step in a six and a half year search for answers.

 

Shannah and Vicki Blackburn leave Mackay Court House after the start of the inquest was delayed on day 4.
Shannah and Vicki Blackburn leave Mackay Court House after the start of the inquest was delayed on day 4. Caitlan Charles

Vicki and Shannah Blackburn and Paul Beardmore, Shandee's mother, sister and step father, as well as family supports have sat in court each day listening to what has often been a harrowing account of her last movements.

Witnesses included police officers, who revealed the police theory behind what happened - that Shandee's killer allegedly waited in the bushes for her to walk past on Juliet St and then dashed across the road and killed her in a stabbing frenzy.

Counsel Assist John Aberdeen, solicitor for the Blackburn family Kristy Bell and barrister Craig Eberhardt for the man acquitted of Shandee's murder will each make submissions to the Coroner.

These will include what happened to Shandee as well as whether or not increased CCTV and lighting is needed in Mackay's high risk areas and is late night venues should offer late shift staff a lift home on their courtesy bus.

These submissions will take in the testimonies heard in Mackay Coroners Court over the last two weeks.

John Peros, who was arrested in 2014 and acquitted by a jury in 2017, has been present in court for each day of the inquest.

Once the submissions have been made Mr O'Connell will consider his findings, which can include recommendations in the public interest.



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