Brown guilty of manslaughter

Michael John Brown, 24, sat motionless in the Launceston Supreme Court with his hands in his lap as the verdict was given after six hours’ deliberation.
Nanjing Night Net

Brown and Shane Anthony Mayne, 27, were driving through Newstead on February 19 last year when they came across Matthew Gouldthorpe.

Mayne chased down the 19-year- old in Dowling St and ran over him at up to 83kmh, telling police later that Brown had told him to and “it seemed funny at the time”.

Mr Gouldthorpe had moved from Victoria to study aquaculture at university three days before he was killed.

Mayne, of Targa, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 25 years’ jail with a minimum parole period of 14 years.

Brown, of Outram St, Summerhill, had pleaded not guilty to murder at the start of his four-day trial last week.

It was the prosecution case that Brown had instigated the crime by suggesting Mayne hit the student or abetted it by encouraging Mayne’s suggestion.

Brown told police that Mayne had asked him if he should hit Mr Gouldthorpe and he said yes but was joking and did not think he would.

The jury’s verdict was not unanimous but the court can accept a manslaughter verdict from 10 or 11 jurors after six hours. Murder must be unanimous.

Brown’s mother stormed out of the court after the verdict and yelled at the jury: “My son’s not guilty of manslaughter.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis, SC, submitted the jury’s verdict showed Brown meant to encourage Mayne but did not realise or ought to have realised death was likely.

Mr Ellis said the murder had a terrible effect on the student’s family.

“Both parents have lost most of their enjoyment of life,” Mr Ellis said.

Mr Gouldthorpe’s father, who shared his son’s birthday, was still extremely depressed and often slept in his son’s bed.

“Mr Gouldthorpe had the horrible experience of farewelling his son for university and having to come back to identify his body virtually the day after,” Mr Ellis said.

In mitigation, defence lawyer Greg Richardson said Brown had met Mayne a month before the murder.

“He didn’t know he had any criminal convictions, didn’t know he’d been in jail,” Mr Richardson said.

He said the extent of Brown’s encouragement would have only continued for a few seconds.

Justice Ewan Crawford said he wanted to consider the sentence and remanded Brown in custody until March 20 at 4pm.

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