Gavel, scales of justice and law books
Gavel, scales of justice and law books

Daughter guilty of mum’s fatal shooting

THE devastated family of an elderly Cooktown wildlife carer left to "die in a paddock" by her schizophrenic daughter say they have been left shattered by the loss of the "selfless, giving" mum and grandmother.

The body of Lesley Blackwell, 71, known as "Bunny" to family and friends, was found at the 17ha Cameron Creek Rd property between Cooktown and Hope Vale on February 18, 2017.

The Cairns Supreme Court heard yesterday she was found with what appeared to be a "hole" in the side of her head, with a disassembled shotgun, pellets and clumps of hair around her.

Crown prosecutor Mark Green said an autopsy had found she likely perished from the gun being discharged near her head, or "blunt force trauma" - possibly from the weapon.

Her daughter Maree Blackwell, 49, yesterday pleaded guilty to manslaughter with the court hearing she was a long-term schizophrenic who had chosen to go off her medication and "self-medicate" with cannabis in the lead up to the attack.

Lesley's sons Brett and Jeff Blackwell, their partners and granddaughter Alexandra all read out moving victim impact statements telling of her incredible generosity, "dignity" and love for animals.

"Our family now feels broken and empty now mum's gone," Jeff Blackwell said.

"She was a bubbly, outgoing person who wouldn't harm anyone. She simply didn't deserve to die in this disgusting way."

Mr Green told the court it was Maree Blackwell's partner John Bodor who found the horrific scene after returning to the property when no one had been able to reach the mother or daughter for several days. The court heard when taken into custody the mentally unwell woman gave multiple statements to police in the coming weeks, including that her mother had been killed by "assassins" hired by her family and that she believed Mr Bodor and Lesley were actually Ivan Milat and his mother.

Mr Green told the court what precisely happened on the day of the killing would never be known.

The court was told Maree Blackwell had been hospitalised five times in 10 years between 2001 and 2010 for mental health issues, including being the subject of involuntary treatment orders, and had previously gone off her medication several times.

The matter was initially sent to the Mental Health Court where she was deemed fit to face trial.

She was initially charged with murder before the charge was reduced to manslaughter.

Justice Jim Henry will hand down the sentence today.

Originally published as Daughter guilty of mum's fatal shooting

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