By Madeleine Morris
Rikki Schmidt’s memories of the day her sister, Tara Costigan, was murdered with an axe are still clear.
It was February 2015 and Tara’s ex-partner Marcus Rappel burst into the home they had shared in a violent rage.
“He was just screaming. He was yelling. He wasn’t saying anything at all,” Ms Schmidt, who was injured in the attack, told 7.30.
“He didn’t even shut his door or shut off his car.
“When I saw his face I knew that he was a completely different person.
“He wasn’t the person that I knew. [His face looked like] pure evil.”
Tara Costigan murdered one day after taking out DVO
The violent murder shocked Australia.
Just seven days earlier Ms Costigan had given birth to a baby daughter, Ayla.
Rappel was the father, but the day before she was killed she took out a domestic violence order (DVO) against him, having seen his behaviour became increasingly threatening.
Ms Costigan’s grandmother, Margaret Costigan, said Tara had become increasingly isolated from the family in the months preceding her death.
“I could see it was … leading to a type of verbal domestic violence,” she said.
“She wasn’t messaging me, she wasn’t ringing me, she wasn’t coming to see me.
“She was sort of cutting herself off.”
A court this week heard Rappel had a history of threatening girlfriends.
Another former partner detailed how he had allegedly told her he would kill any woman who took out a DVO against him.
True to his word, the day he was served with Ms Costigan’s DVO he drove to Bunnings, bought an axe and drove to her home.
Rappel swung axe as Costigan fled with baby
Ms Costigan was breastfeeding their infant daughter when he burst in.
“I heard a smash or a window or something,” Ms Schmidt told 7.30.
“I seen the boys [Ms Costigan’s two sons] running towards me screaming.”
Ms Costigan also ran towards Ms Schmidt, cradling Ayla.
“And then I seen Marcus behind her,” Ms Schmidt said.
“I didn’t see what he had until [Tara] was right next to me so I reached out to grab her to pull her forward, and as I had my arms near Tara he swung and hit us both.”
Ms Costigan fell to the ground, a deep wound in the back of her neck.
The axe severed a tendon in Ms Schmidt’s finger.
Ms Schmidt’s partner Bryce Bullman then tackled Rappel and drew him into another room, while Ms Schmidt made a frenzied call to emergency services.
She tried to staunch the bleeding from Tara’s wounds with a towel, but she soon realised her sister was dying.
She broke down as she recalled the awful moment.