Liz Noble has a tattoo on her left wrist that reads, “I love you” – the words of the last text message she received from her son before he died, trapped in his bedroom, as the Rozelle apartment building burned around him.
That deadly blaze was deliberately lit by Adeel Ahmad Khan, who was last month convicted of the murder of Chris Noble and manslaughter of Bianka O’Brien and her baby son Jude, after setting his Rozelle convenience store alight in the early hours of September 3, 2014, triggering a massive explosion.
Today, several of Noble and O’Brien’s family and friends have given harrowing victim impact statements at Khan’s sentencing hearing at the NSW Supreme Court, telling of the heartbreak and trauma of knowing how the their loved ones must have suffered in their final moments.
“My son died alone trapped in a room knowing that he could not get out. The thought of that has no words that are adequate enough to describe,” Mrs Noble said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Though comforted by his final text message, Mrs Noble said sometimes it all become too much. She told the court she’d briefly contemplated driving her car into into a large tree, just to end the suffering.
“The unbalanced part of me wants to see him,” she said, crying.
Noble's two housemates managed to flee that night, but his door jammed and with bars on his windows, he had no way to escape.
One of those men, Corey Cameron, said today he was forced to listen to his best mate "screaming for his life" - a sound that still haunts him nearly two years on.
“I stayed on the balcony as long as I could … But I knew I had to jump as the building was overcome with flames — there was no escaping,” Cameron said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Noble's family ultimately laid him to rest on September 8, 2014, a moment that his father, Ross, said gave them an opportunity “hug and kiss our beautiful son one last time”.
“We were able to hold our Chris wrapped in a white sheet because he was so badly burned ... No parent, no brother, no sister, should ever have to do that," he said in court today.
“Seeing such a strong beautiful, content, happy man reduced to that should never have happened.”
O'Brien's father Bill Keremelevski said his 31-year-old daughter was more than just a member of his family, she was its "shining star".
“So unfair to be taken away from us way too early, it’s not fair at all,” he said.
"Mr Khan, what you have done you can't even imagine how many people's lives you have affected and how many hearts you have ripped out."
Khan continues to deny responsibility for the blaze, saying he was robbed and tied up by three armed men. However, prosecutors successfully argued that he deliberately destroyed the shop in order to obtain an insurance payout and escape the lease.
He will be sentenced next Friday.
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