Larry Maiolo left his home for a morning walk at Halls Head beach, surrounded by locals walking their dogs, swimming and riding their bikes. The dedicated family man and father of two never returned — he was stabbed to death by Daniel Luke Zwerus in a frenzied and unprovoked attack.
Zwerus, a complete stranger, then callously dumped Mr Maiolo’s body in the ocean.
Sally Kaur, 57, was cutting vegetables at the kitchen bench of her home in Koondoola. Her stepson, Catalin Alin Borbil, took the knife and repeatedly stabbed her in the torso, plunging the weapon into her neck after she slumped to the ground.
Borbil then stepped over her blood-soaked body to steal from the family home.
Lindsay Ferguson was driving his cab in Mandurah, petrified after one of his passengers brandished a knife and flew into a rage. Grant Lindon Collard’s violent outburst was so terrifying, his three accomplices fled as he smashed up the inside of the vehicle, shouted and swore.
Collard, found guilty of murder by a jury, had frightened the 67-year-old taxi driver to death, causing Mr Ferguson to have a heart attack after his cab collided with a truck.
Witnesses said Collard spat on Mr Ferguson as he lay dying.
Not even two months into the year, this is a snapshot of cases the WA Supreme Court has dealt with. Each has needlessly cut short a life, leaving grief-stricken and devastated families at the sudden and shocking loss.
Each attracted a life jail term for the offender. Though it is the lesser told story, this also often spreads tentacles to another category of victims — the parents wondering what went wrong and children left to grow up without a parent.
There are two common factors which stand out in these cases.
The use of methamphetamine was a driver in the abhorrent actions of each of the three murderers. And the level of violence involved is almost incomprehensible.
The link between drug use and crime is nothing new.
But over the past 10 years, the use of methamphetamine has overtaken other drugs and its prevalence as a cause of violence is undeniable.
It is common for speed use and addiction to be rattled out as one of the factors, often the most pertinent, in offences of drug dealing, drug taking, robbery, stealing, burglary and assault.
But methamphetamine binges are fuelling offending accompanied by an escalating and frightening level of violence.
Late last year, an almost unbelievable tale of determined violence emerged in the Supreme Court during the “head in the bag” trial. Fuelled by speed, Aaron Carlino shot underworld figure Stephen Cookson twice in the head before spending about six hours removing his legs, arms and head.
He buried the corpse and then later dug up the decaying parts, dumping the body pieces off a boat and Cookson’s head washed up on Rottnest.
Again, methamphetamine use was frequently referred to during the trial.
Last year, in a series on methamphetamine in this newspaper, Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin noted that by the time methamphetamine-related offences came before him, it was too late.
Victims of Crime Commissioner Jennifer Hoffman said the drug was also driving an escalation in domestic violence and cases where women were forced by their partners to commit offences such as drug cooking.
Sentencing Zwerus this month to a life jail term with a minimum of 18 years, Justice Steven Hall described the former WAFL player as being in a drug-induced psychotic state that had left him delusional and paranoid after months of using methamphetamine on an almost daily basis.
“In my view, it is clear that you knew that the drugs were having a seriously adverse effect upon you and your judgment and despite attempts to stop, you went on using those drugs,” he said. “In those circumstances, it is not open for the psychosis to be viewed as a mitigating factor.
“The adverse effects of methamphetamine on mental health are notorious and they include aggression and paranoia.”
Sentencing Borbil on Monday to life with at least 17 years before parole, Justice Michael Corboy commented on the need for court penalties to serve as a deterrent.
“It is apparent to the courts and the community that there is a disturbing connection between methamphetamine intoxication and gross levels of irrational violence,” Justice Corboy said.
Sadly, the past two months have shown that the link between methamphetamine and catastrophic violence is unrelenting — and for too many, it is far too late by the time matters reach the Supreme Court.
That is the challenge for a coordinated response by governments, schools, parents and families as the community deals with the devastating effects of this insidious drug.