A brutal Newcastle childhood leads to a senseless murder

Murdered: Leslie Wallace was a "vibrant, creative and generous man" until he was brutally murdered in a case of mistaken identity.

Murdered: Leslie Wallace was a "vibrant, creative and generous man" until he was brutally murdered in a case of mistaken identity.

IT was a crime spree as brutal as murderer John Lloyd Evans’ childhood – three home invasions over a seven-week period in 2015 that left one man with serious head injuries and another man dead because Evans mistakenly thought he was a drug supplier.

Details of Evans’ shocking crimes, and the ugly facts of a Newcastle childhood where he was first raped and given drugs at the age of nine, were made public this week after a co-accused was acquitted of murder following a Newcastle Supreme Court trial.

Evans, 35, was sentenced to 24 years jail for forcing his way into Leslie Wallace’s rented unit at Terrigal, tying him up with electrical tape, gagging him and bludgeoning his head and body on December 15, 2015. Evans went to the unit because a former tenant was a drug supplier. Mr Wallace, 65, was in the process of moving into the unit when he was attacked and killed.

Evans left with Mr Wallace’s laptop computer, a USB drive and a digital projector.

“Based on the number and severity of the injuries detected, the assault appeared to have been very violent and sustained, possibly over at least several minutes. It was said that death would not have been instantaneous,” said Justice Robert Hulme in a decision made public this week after Evans’ co-accused, Tamara Fenton, was found not guilty of murder.

Acquitted: Tamara Fenton found not guilty of murdered Leslie Williams. Her co-accused, John Lloyd Evans, was found guilty of murder.

Acquitted: Tamara Fenton found not guilty of murdered Leslie Williams. Her co-accused, John Lloyd Evans, was found guilty of murder.

Only hours after leaving Mr Wallace for dead, Evans forced his way into a house at The Entrance, ordered the male occupant to kneel and bludgeoned him about the head. He left without taking anything. 

Seven weeks before the Terrigal killing, Evans and an accomplice forced their way into a Woy Woy home, threatened five occupants with a metal pole, tied their hands with electrical tape and stole $750 in cash, cigarettes, toiletries and bottles of vitamins.

“It’s been a pleasure gentlemen,” Evans said on his way out.

Justice Hulme accepted evidence from Community Corrections, a forensic psychologist and neuropsychologist that Evans’ childhood and adolescence included “significant physical, sexual and psychological abuse” that “provides in very large measure an explanation for his involvement in substance abuse and criminal offending from an early age, as well as for the fact that they have been enduring features of his life”.

A stepfather was sadistically violent and the stepfather’s brother sexually abused Evans from the age of nine. Evans was also sexually abused by a neighbour and living on the streets at 12. He was using marijuana at age nine, heroin at 15 and “ice” at 21, and his criminal record started at 15.

His general intellectual abilities were in the extremely low range, the court heard. 

Justice Hulme said he was “not entirely convinced” that Evans’ remorse was genuine, or that he had even a “glimmer of hope” of rehabilitation. Evans’ record while in custody was not good, with four drug and alcohol infractions in the past six months, the judge noted.

Justice Hulme extended his sympathy to Mr Wallace’s fiancee and family for the loss of “such a vibrant, creative and generous man”.

Evans was sentenced to 24 years jail, with a minimum jail term of 18 years, and credit for pleading guilty. His earliest release date is December, 2033.