Jason Downie’s triple murder of Andrew and Rose Rowe, and their daughter Chantelle, all of whom he stabbed inside their home, was motivated by an unrequited sexual infatuation with the 16-year-old daughter.
Prosecutors told the Supreme Court in Adelaide, South Australia, Chantelle put up with Downie’s unwanted advances because he was a friend of her boyfriend.
Downie, 20, stabbed Andrew 29 times, and Chantelle at least 33 times in a murder scene prosecutors said “would not be an exaggeration” to call blood-soaked.
Chantelle was also sexually assaulted as she was being murdered.
Following the attack, Downie re-dressed Chantelle in clean clothes.
Chantelle’s mother Rose was stabbed at least 50 times, including while she was crawling to escape.
Fragments of a kitchen knife – the murder weapon used – were found embedded in the victim’s bodies, prosecutors said.
After the murders, a TV crew filmed Downie visiting a memorial for the Rowe family.
He handed himself in at the Kapunda police station eight days after the murder.
In court today, Downie held a blank stare as statements from the Rowe’s friends and relatives, plus their surviving son Christopher were read out.
Christopher said everything was different – “every Christmas, every birthday, every special day”.
“You could never be bored with my mum, she was so funny … she was the handyman around the house and would teach me to fix things,” he said.
“Chantelle was saying she couldn’t wait to be 18 and go out with me and my friends and socialise with us,” he said.
“I planned to teach her to drive when I got back from my Queensland holiday … now I will not get the chance to do that.”
He said that, as a result of the murders, he “had nothing”.
Some 26 victim impact statements are expected to submitted before Downie is sentenced.
He pleaded guilty this morning to three counts of murder committed on November 8, 2010.
Downie confirmed his pleas at the insistence of director of public prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC, who last month asked Justice John Sulan to “re-arraign” Downie before sentencing submissions were heard.
Pallaras told the court Downie had a conversation with his brother about the murders, which was inconsistent with his plea.
A reversal of Downie’s plea today would have sent the case to trial.
“We are concerned that his pleas of guilty be seen to be unequivocal… the last thing we want is a reversal of plea,” he said in court.
“We urge Your Honour to confirm that he has consciously pleaded guilty and that those are unequivocal pleas of guilty to these charges.”