Mind of a murderer

DETERMINING the Hillier murderer’s state of mind when he killed two children will be key to deciding his minimum prison sentence, the Supreme Court has heard.
Steven Graham Peet, 32, faces three terms of life imprisonment after pleading guilty to the murder of Adeline Yvette Rigney-Wilson, 28, and her two children, Amber Rose Rigney, six, and Korey Mitchell, five, at their Hillier home in May, 2016.
Peet faced sentencing submissions at the Supreme Court on Friday, after having earlier in the week entered the guilty pleas in relation to the children’s murders.
Five months earlier, Peet pleaded not guilty to the children’s murders, despite pleading guilty to the murder of Ms Rigney-Wilson.
At the time, Peet’s defence claimed he was in a dissociated state when he committed the children’s murders and therefore mentally unfit to enter pleas – a position that relied on the validation of a psychologist’s analysis.
However, last week, the Supreme Court heard that analysis had changed after new evidence – a transcript of a police interview with Peet for a prior assault charge – came to light.
Prosecutor Tim Preston urged Justice Malcolm Blue “not to accept, too readily, the dissociation factor” and that Peet should receive a non-parole period “far in excess of (the standard) 20
years”.
“The most obvious explanation for the murder of Ms Rigney-Wilson was anger on the behalf of the defendant, and the most obvious explanation for the killing of the children was that they witnessed the murder of their mother,” Mr Preston said.
“Although Peet was prepared to plead guilty at the eleventh hour of the trial, he’s not prepared to admit that he was responsible for causing the deaths of the two children with acts of violence.”
Defence barrister Bill Boucaut SC accepted all the facts of the case presented to the court – including that Peet bashed Ms Rigney-Wilson with a crowbar and suffocated her, before suffocating
the children and tying them up with cable ties – and told the court Peet “knows that he is going to get a very long non-parole period”.
However, Mr Boucaut urged Justice Blue to consider the context to the murders, despite it being a “difficult submission to make in the light of the horror of this matter”.
Mr Boucaut claimed Peet experienced physical and verbal abuse at the hands of Ms Rigney-Wilson – which he said went “hand in hand” with her methamphetamine and alcohol use – and this came to a head
when Peet reacted on May 31, 2016.
Mr Boucaut submitted that Peet – who has professed “limited recollection” of the children’s murders, only recalling putting the cable ties around Korey – panicked after murdering Ms Rigney-Wilson,
and that he entered a dissociative state, as “self-preservation” set in.
Peet was remanded in custody to reappear before the Supreme Court to continue sentencing submissions at a later date.

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Matteo Gagliardi joined The Bunyip in August 2016 with almost two years experience in regional print media, having previously worked at a community newspaper in Swan Hill, Victoria. Covering politics, local government and crime, Matteo likes to sink his teeth into hard-hitting issues, but also enjoys spending time getting to know the Gawler community. Matteo also has a passion for science, agriculture and the environment, and has previously worked as a media officer at the Australian Science Media Centre.

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