news

The verdict in the Gerard Baden-Clay trial has been handed down.

Gerard and Allison Baden-Clay.

Gerard Baden-Clay has been found guilty of murdering his wife Allison and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum parole period of 15 years.

Baden-Clay, a 43-year-old former real estate agent, was accused of killing Allison 19 April 2012, but pleaded not guilty.

The jury reached its unanimous verdict at around 11:00am today, on its fourth day of deliberations.

There was a loud cheer and yells of “yes!” from Allison’s family as the verdict was announced, while Allison’s sister Vanessa Fowler wept and whispered “thank you” to the jury, Yahoo News reports.

Baden-Clay, who was wearing a black suit with a yellow striped tie in court, was asked if he had anything to say following the verdict, but responded “no”.

He reportedly began gasping for air in the minutes following the verdict’s announcement, saying he couldn’t breathe.

Yellow was Allison’s favourite colour, and a number of her supporters also wore the colour in court today.

Victim impact statements read in court

Allison’s mother, Priscilla Dickie, read a movingvictim impact statement in court following the verdict.

“You promised to take care of her … you did the opposite,” the bereaved mother said.

She said Allison had stayed for her husband and the couple’s three children. “She stayed and she died,” Ms Dickie said.

Ms Dickie added that she didn’t know how she would fill the role of mother — and that it broke her heart to think of the three Baden-Clay children, who now have to deal with having “mummy put them to bed one night, and then (go) missing.”

Directly looking at Baden-Clay, she said: “You’ve sentenced your daughters to life without their mother.”  

(Image: Twitter/@KayMcGrath7)
(Image: Twitter/@KayMcGrath7)

Allison’s father, Geoffrey Dickie, also gave a poignant victim impact statement, saying Allison “was the wonder of (his) life and now she’s been taken away.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“She would have had the strength to fight to the very end as she was murdered,” the devastated father said.

Mr Dickie added that he knew his granddaughters would grow up into beautiful, strong women because they were their mother’s daughters, Nine News reports.

“You asked for my daughters hand in marriage, I consented but I didn’t give you permission for this,” he said to Baden-Clay.

“Allison, I love you and I miss you.”

Allison’s sister Vanessa Fowler then read her statement, in which she said she and Allison had been a team.

“There’s a hole, a dark void left inside us where Allison touched us,” Ms Fowler said.

She added that with the guilty verdict, Allison “for the first time since she married Gerard Baden-Clay has come out on top.”

“The girls look for their mother, they cry for their mother, and they miss their mother.”

“It’s because of you that these children have no mother,” she said, addressing Baden-Clay.

Ms Fowler then read out the statement of Allison’s brother, who reportedly had not arrived at the court in time for the sentencing.

Allison Baden-Clay.

Following the reading of the victim impact statements, Justice John Byrne told Baden-Clay his ‘impact on the family has been grave.”

“You’ve used other forms of deception, but whatever you may say on any application for parole 15 years or more hence will need to be assessed with considerable scepticism,” Justice Byrne said.

“The community, acting through the court, denounces your lethal violence,” he said.

“You took a loving mother from her family.”

The trial

The jury retired to consider its verdict at 11.10am on Thursday 10 July after hearing from 72 witnesses, including Mr Baden-Clay.

Their deliberations were interrupted last week after it was revealed one juror accessed information on the internet, the Brisbane Times reports.

Another juror’s request that the judge explain how the jury should view alleged lies told by Mr Baden-Clay also interrupted the deliberations.

Yesterday, the jury sought clarification on issues involving circumstantial evidence, with one juror sending a note to Justice Byrne requesting “another reading of the process and meaning and application of circumstantial evidence to arrive at a verdict”, the Brisbane Times reports.

Justice John Byrne repeated his summary to the jury, saying it is “evidence of circumstances that can be relied upon, not as proving a fact directly, but instead as pointing to its existence,” the ABC reports.

The prosecution alleged that Baden-Clay smothered and dumped Allison‘s body under a bridge in the middle of the night on 19 April 2012 before returning home to his children at Brookfield.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Brisbane mother-of-three’s body was found by a kayaker in Brisbane, dressed in walking clothes, just ten days after Baden-Clay reported her missing to police.

Media crowded around the court this morning. (Image: Twitter/Sky News)
Media crowded around the court this morning. (Image: Twitter/Sky News)

Her body was found on a muddy creek bank nearly 14km from the Baden-Clays’ home in western Brisbane, The Australian reports.

Baden-Clay maintained his innocence throughout the trial, pleading not guilty in court. He claimed he went to bed at about 10pm, leaving Allison sitting on a couch watching television.

He claimed his wife went out for walk that fateful morning and never returned.

Baden-Clay’s defence counsel Michael Byrne QC pointed to Mrs Baden-Clay’s history with depression, suggesting she was suicidal.

Mr Byrne QC argued the crown’s case suggested Baden-Clay killed his wife because he wanted to leave her for Ms McHugh.

“You may find his morals despicable, but that’s a far cry from labelling him a murderer,” Mr Byrne said.

Crown prosecutor Todd Fuller QC argued Baden-Clay’s affairs and financial debts drove him to murder his wife.

One of the key features of the prosecution’s case were several red cuts on Gerard Baden-Clay’s face that he told police were shaving cuts, as well as other cuts and bruises on his hand, neck and chest.

The trial heard details of Baden-Clay’s infidelities, including a long running affair with colleague Toni McHugh, whom he  fired after admitting to the affair to his wife.

A number of reporters were present in the courtroom as the verdict was handed down. Some of their tweets this morning captured the tension — and later, relief — in the courtroom.

00:00 / ???