Lock him up longer: mother of murder victim

 THE man responsible for the grisly murder of karaoke queen Trisha Cobeanou will be 49 when he finishes the 18-year jail term he was given yesterday.

Marcus John Lee stood still as he was sentenced in  Newcastle Supreme Court, keeping his head down as he made his way to the cells below. 

He will serve a non-parole period of 13 years and six months, making him eligible for release on November 9, 2024, taking into account time already served.

Outside the court Ms Cobeanou’s mother, Tracy Bower, expressed her dissatisfaction with the outcome.

‘‘He should have gotten longer than what he got because he will be able to walk around free ... and Trisha won’t be coming back,’’ she said.

‘‘Trisha is always going to be 27.’’

Ms Cobeanou had been missing for three weeks when her badly decomposed body was discovered wrapped in garbage bags in the boot of Lee’s Hyundai Lantra in Grainger Street, Lambton.

Lee later handed himself in to police and admitted to killing Ms Cobeanou, but said he could not remember the details.

He had been out drinking with her on April 16, 2011, at the Hamilton Station Hotel, where she was a well-known patron and spent most Saturday nights singing karaoke, the court heard.

Ms Cobeanou caught a taxi to Lee’s place, a small shed at a wreckers’ yard in Hooker Street, Islington, about 3.30am on April 17.

Lee told police he lost count of how many drinks he had that night but he could still walk.

He said that, back at his place, he asked Ms Cobeanou about money she owed him.

 He had reached for her handbag when she hit him over the head and he ‘‘snapped’’.

The next thing he remembered he was waking up to find her lifeless body on the floor next to his bed.

‘‘Trisha Cobeanou was deceased on me [sic] floor ...’’ Lee told police.

‘‘At that stage, with me being in a panic, not thinking clearly, I bagged up the body with duct tape and garbage bags, had it underneath the bed for that day until it was night time, and I put it in the boot of my [car].’’

Two weeks later he phoned his brother and told him he had ‘‘knocked someone off’’, and that he must have strangled her. He told other people he had ‘‘f---ed up’’ and ‘‘made a mistake’’,  and ‘‘I have got to pay for what I have done’’.

In his defence, barrister John Fitzgerald said that Lee’s actions were impulsive, and that he had not intended to kill Ms Cobeanou.

That argument was rejected by the sentencing judge, Justice Geoff Bellew.

There was a degree of deliberation involved, Judge Bellew said yesterday, and Lee went to some effort to ensure Ms Cobeanou could not take another breath.

He had stuffed a sock into her mouth, taped over her mouth, wrapped cling wrap over her face, and put duct tape over her eyes, nose and mouth. He had put a black plastic bag over her head, held in place by more tape, and a brown belt in the shape of a noose around her neck. 

Her death by asphyxiation was caused by a combination of those factors, a forensic pathologist said.

‘‘What he did to her was horrifying,’’ Ms Cobeanou’s mother said yesterday.

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