‘It is still very raw’: Accused killer was due to stand trial this week, instead his case has been set back
‘It is still very raw’: Accused killer was due to stand trial this week, instead his case has been set back

Agony in wait for justice over grandmother's death

FRESH pain washes over the family of slain Townsville grandmother Elizabeth Kippin each time the case against her accused killer is delayed.

Four years after the 81-year-old was allegedly stabbed to death in her Wulguru home, her children have no closure.

Anthony James O'Keefe allegedly killed Mrs Kippin (inset) and seriously injured two others in a drug-fuelled rampage on July 26, 2016.

O'Keefe was due to stand trial in the Townsville Supreme Court this week. Instead, Mrs Kippin's family was told the trial would not go ahead.

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The Bulletin approached Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath's office to ask her to explain to Mrs Kippin's family how the justice process could take so long, but it declined to comment.

Mrs Kippin's nephew, David Kippin, said each delay sent emotional shockwaves through the family.

"It has impacted on all her family but, particularly Beth's daughter and son," he said.

"Every time we are advised there is a delay, Beth's daughter bursts into tears. It is still very raw in our memories what happened four years ago."

Elizabeth Kippin's son and daughter Wayne Kippin and Terrie Ward attend their mother’s funeral at the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church . Picture: Zak Simmonds
Elizabeth Kippin's son and daughter Wayne Kippin and Terrie Ward attend their mother’s funeral at the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church . Picture: Zak Simmonds

Police had no idea Mrs Kippin had been killed as they held a press conference near her home where two others were stabbed during O'Keefe's alleged rampage along Wright Street.

As Detective Inspector Kelly Harvey addressed the media, a man interrupted.

"She's dead … my neighbour," the man shouted to a shocked Inspector Harvey.

O'Keefe was arrested on July 26. Police found him naked and bloodied, allegedly roaming the streets armed with a knife and fence paling.

 

Funeral of Elizabeth Kippin from St Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Funeral of Elizabeth Kippin from St Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Picture: Zak Simmonds

He faces 18 charges including murder, two counts of attempted murder, five counts of wilful damage, two counts each of seriously assaulting police, and obstructing police as well as a range of other charges.

A spokesman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed the case against him was adjourned at the request of his defence team to allow time to obtain further material.

O'Keefe engaged Townsville law firm Ross & Robins Lawyers last month.

The Bulletin understands this is not the first time he's changed legal representation.

Mr Kippin said his family was at the "mercy" of an underfunded judicial system crying out for resources.

David Kippin said the family’s pain resurfaced each time there were delays in the case of Beth’s accused murderer. Picture: Zak Simmonds
David Kippin said the family’s pain resurfaced each time there were delays in the case of Beth’s accused murderer. Picture: Zak Simmonds

"We keep getting deferral after deferral. It is very frustrating and still hurts," he said.

"I hope this last proceeding is the one, for Beth, for the family and for the community."

In 2016, O'Keefe refused legal representation as his case was mentioned in court.

High-profile Queensland lawyer Bill Potts said it was unusual, though not unheard of, for a murder trial to take more than four years to come before the court.

"Murder is the most serious crime in the criminal calendar and accordingly, police put enormous resources into ensuring justice, not just for the victim and victim's family, but also for our whole society," he said.

Because the only penalty for murder is life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years, Mr Potts said it was critical the justice system worked perfectly.

"The court is also well aware that many people often change lawyers at the last moment as a means of delay," he said.

"Justice delayed is often called to be justice denied."

Mr Kippin said the family knew it must follow legal process but felt the system often forgot the human side. "I understand you have to go through the due process because everyone deserves a defence," Mr Kippin said.

"I would not like to brand the whole (legal) system, but there are parts and certain people that don't think of the victims when they make decisions. It has been awfully frustrating."

Originally published as Agony in wait for justice


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