After a day of beer-drinking and arguing, a woman allegedly used a shotgun she found in her son’s room to shoot her partner in the back for being ‘smug’, but she didn’t intend to kill him, a court has heard.
Her adult son tried to take the blame for killing Scott James Morrison at her Southport, Gold Coast home on January 3, 2018, but 43-year-old Paania Frauline Lawrence has since come forward.
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Pleading guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday to the manslaughter of her partner of six months, she walked away with a nine-year sentence.
On the day of the 46-year-old’s death, Mr Morrison was greedy, drinking “all their beer”, prompting Ms Lawrence to hide some in her adult daughter’s bedroom, prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso later told police.
Ms Lawrence then went into her adult son’s bedroom, finding him asleep, but came across a shotgun she hadn’t seen before.
She told police she didn’t know if it was fake or real, loaded or not, but she returned to the lounge room, sitting with the weapon next to her for some time.
Ms Kelso said Ms Lawrence asked Mr Morrison to leave before firing a shot, hitting him in the lower back, while he was walking down the hallway.
She thought he was going to get another drink, telling police she shot him because he appeared smug and “was being a smart a***”.
But Ms Lawrence told police she aimed low thinking shooting someone in a lower part of their body wouldn’t be fatal.
Ms Lawrence called emergency services and put a bag of frozen vegetables on Mr Morrison, attempting to give him first aid, but he died almost immediately.
Police found the shotgun wrapped in plastic in the closet in Lawrence’s son’s bedroom.
‘(Mr Morrison’s mother) had lost the remaining member of her family suddenly and under shocking circumstances.’ – family friend Nicole McRae
Ms Lawrence – who has been subject to “significant domestic violence” during her life – claimed Mr Morrison had been violent towards her including burning her with a cigarette lighter.
She claimed he was belittling and jealous, making a veiled threat about what might happen if she was on a boat with him, Ms Kelso said.
Ms Lawrence’s criminal history includes being fined for assaulting a partner by biting his cheek, scratching his neck and twisting his penis in 2003.
But her barrister Kim Bryson told the court Ms Lawrence’s assault convictions must be viewed in the context of her being a victim of significant domestic violence.
A family friend said the man known as Scotty and his mother lived “every day for each other” after his brother and father died from cancer.
“How does someone survive this?” Nicole McRae asked.
“She (Mr Morrison’s mother) had lost the remaining member of her family suddenly and under shocking circumstances.”
Ms Lawrence told the court she was “genuinely and sincerely sorry” to Mr Morrison’s family and friends.
“I wish it was different,” she added.
Justice Paul Freeburn said Ms Lawrence’s son confessed to NSW Corrective Services he had committed “the murder” but refused to testify at his mother’s committal hearing.
Sentencing Ms Lawrence for manslaughter after she was discharged on a murder charge, Justice Freeburn said there were a “constellation of mitigating factors” like her guilty plea, psychiatric diagnoses and history of relationships involving considerable violence.
He handed Ms Lawrence, who had been in custody since Mr Morrison died, a nine-year jail sentence. She will be eligible for parole in five months.
The NZ-born Ms Lawrence is likely to have her Australian visa suspended after she serves her sentence.
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