By CAM LUCADOU-WELLS
A HAMPTON Park man has been jailed for 21-and-a-half years for the “cowardly” murder of his de facto wife using a steel-framed chair.
Steve Ray Cook, 24, appeared in the Supreme Court on 19 August over the fatal drunken attack on Sharnee Ngatai at their Willow Drive home.
The 23-year-old victim was the mother of two of Cook’s children.
On the night of 10 January 2014, Cook was awoken by Ms Ngatai and his cousin after he had consumed at his estimation 15 bottles of beer at their backyard party.
In sentencing, Justice James Elliott said “for no apparent reason” Cook became angry, punching and pushing the victim despite attempts by his female cousin to stop him.
As Ms Ngatai lay “helplessly” on the ground saying “words to the effect of ‘help me’”, Cook picked up a steel-framed chair.
He held it above his head and struck her with such force that one of the legs penetrated her brain.
“Your crime was not only violent, it was cowardly,” Justice Elliott said.
“You are a large man. Sharnee is not a large woman.”
In a victim impact statement, Ms Ngatai’s father said he “fell apart into a million pieces” after hearing of his daughter’s death.
Ms Ngatai’s mother described that thinking of her daughter’s pain and suffering “at those hands” left her “unblinking for a long time”.
The court had heard that the couple’s infant children had no memory of their mother.
Justice Elliott took into account the impact of Cook being introduced to drinking as a 12 year old by his alcoholic father and of his parents abusing alcohol in the family’s home.
Cook had been previously convicted of about 20 offences between 2010 and 2012, including concurrent jail terms for two “brutal” attacks on Ms Ngatai while she was pregnant in 2011.
She was hospitalised on both occasions.
Eighteen months after his release from prison, Cook killed her.
He had also previously assaulted two security guards at a McDonald’s restaurant, and abused and punched a bus driver.
“You have already been given the chance to rehabilitate yourself,” Justice Elliott said.
“You did not take it, with tragic consequences.”
Cook was ordered to serve a non-parole term of 17-and-a-half years.