Katie Foreman murder: Bradley Rawlinson, Wendy Evans and Michelle Proud sentenced — (The Illawarra Mercury)

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The Illawarra Mercury

SHANNON TONKIN

28 Jul 2014, noon

Bradley Max Rawlinson has been jailed for 36 years for the “calculated and brutal” murder of his estranged girlfriend, Wollongong lawyer Katherine Foreman.

Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Harrison found Rawlinson had been the “principal and driving force” behind the plot to murder Ms Foreman, who perished in a deliberately lit fire at her Corrimal home in the early hours of October 27, 2011.

In handing down the judgment in Sydney on Monday morning, Justice Harrison said Rawlinson had not expressed “one breath of regret” over his role in Ms Foreman’s death and continued to maintain his innocence despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

Rawlinson’s secret lover and partner in crime, Ms Foreman’s one-time friend Wendy Anne Evans, was sentenced to 24 years’ jail, with a minimum of 18 years behind bars.

Evans was responsible for recruiting a third person, Michelle Sharon Proud, to help plan the attack. Proud arranged for a man, who cannot be named, to carry out the gruesome killing alongside Evans in exchange for $3000.

Proud was sentenced to 20 years’ jail, with a non-parole period of 14 years.

In sentencing the trio, Justice Harrison found Rawlinson was the driving force behind the murder plot, saying he had recruited Evans by playing on her intense dislike of Ms Foreman and her growing affections for him as the two embarked on their secret affair. Justice Harrison said Rawlinson had managed to convince Evans that the pair could not be together as long as Ms Foreman was alive.

“She was the victim of undue influence and manipulation by Rawlinson,” Justice Harrison said. “It’s highly probable that Evans wouldn’t have become involved [in Ms Foreman’s death] if Rawlinson hadn’t have [manipulated] her. I’m satisfied Evans’s participation came about [as the result of] significant influence asserted upon her by Rawlinson [due to] the web of lies and deceit he spun.”

Despite that, Justice Harrison said Evans’s role in the crime was objectively very serious, involving the premeditated purchase of items to start the fire, and ultimately, carrying out the deed.

“The deceased was confined within an inferno that exploded in the quiet of the night in the home where she lived,” Justice Harrison said in describing what happened next.

“It is difficult to contemplate … a more excruciating or frightening way to die.”

Justice Harrison found, given the location and intensity of the fire, that Evans had intended to kill Ms Foreman when she entered her home that night, saying the solicitor had been left with no way of escaping.

Meantime, he rejected suggestions peddled by Rawlinson’s lawyers during the trial that their client had only wanted Ms Foreman “hurt”, not killed, noting text messages between Rawlinson and Evans in the weeks leading up to the fire and then after it, clearly spelt out Rawlinson’s sinister intentions. He also labelled as “lies and fantasy” Rawlinson’s claims his motivation for the murder plot was borne out of both Ms Foreman and Evans threatening harm to himself and members of his family.

In sentencing Proud, Justice Harrison said although she had been a “willing and enthusiastic contributor” to the plot – arranging for the man to hurt Ms Foreman in exchange for payment – it was her “ignorance and naivety” that got her into that position, rather than any criminal intention.

Rawlinson was sentenced to a non-parole period of 27 years. With time already served, he will be eligible for release in 2038; Evans in 2029; and Proud in 2025.

 

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R v Evans; R v Rawlinson; R v Proud [2014] NSWSC 979 (28 July 2014) — (AustLii)

Last Updated: 10 December 2014

Supreme Court New South Wales

REMARKS ON SENTENCE
HIS HONOUR: The deceased Katherine Foreman died at her home in the early hours of 27 October 2011, when the upstairs bedroom in which she was sleeping was set alight. The fire engulfed the home and the deceased was later found lying on the landing at the top of the stairs. It is not in dispute that petrol was poured inside the bedroom and ignited.
  1. Bradley Rawlinson, Michelle Proud and Wendy Evans were each indicted upon a charge alleging that on 27 October 2011 at Corrimal in the State of New South Wales they did  murder  Katherine Foreman. Ms Evans pleaded guilty to the  murder  of the deceased on 14 June 2013. A jury found Mr Rawlinson and Ms Proud guilty of the  murder  of the deceased on 11 April 2014 following a trial in Sydney that commenced on 18 February 2014.
  1. On 3 October 2011, Mr Rawlinson sent messages to Ms Evans whilst he was in the presence of the deceased, as follows: “I can’t wait to see you tonight. This is hell. She is a cow. She’s carrying on like an idiot. God I want her gone.

I want to kiss you tonight and hug you. I love you. …

OK, let me know how you go beautiful. I miss you.”

  1. Ms Evans responded, saying: “I’m OK just finished from the Dr. I have to get antibiotics. I miss you and I love you. I can’t wait to see you tonight. So entertain me? What is she doing to be an idiot?”
  1. On 4 October 2011, Ms Evans sent a message to Mr Rawlinson saying, “I will sweetness. I hope you have a good day at work. I miss you and love you. I wish you were here with me. I dislike it intensely when you are not with me. But it’s not for much longer. Then our life together begins.”
  1. Mr Rawlinson sent Ms Evans a message on 13 October 2011 in which he said: “I want to be with you til I die and I hope you understand the various reasons why it needs to happen to her now. I love you.”
  1. Some six days later Mr Rawlinson sent a message to Ms Evans as follows: “Do me a favor [sic] and send her the text from the public phone you were going to yesterday.” Ms Evans responded, saying, “I will do it today sweetness. I love you. Have a good day at work.” Mr Rawlinson later responded, saying, “OK Wendy. I really do want to spend my life with you which is why she must go. To grow old with you always.”
  1. Ms Evans is a 41-year-old Aboriginal woman. She has three sons aged 24, 21 and 20 and a daughter aged 18. Ms Evans grew up in Unanderra and Berkeley, attending Farmborough Road Public School and Berkeley High School to Year 10. She became pregnant for the first time when still at school at the age of 16. She completed her senior high school years at Illawarra Senior College. She does not suffer from any learning disorder or ADHD. She was a well behaved and quiet student. She was never suspended or expelled.
  1. [Ms Evans] had a conflicted relationship with her stepmother, who treated her violently. She and her sister were also sexually abused by a grandparental figure when she was about 9 or 10 years of age. She reported this but was told to keep it to herself. She was exposed to violence in the family home. Her mother was imprisoned for fraud when Ms Evans was first pregnant.
  1. Ms Evans started work with the Attorney-General’s Department in 2008, working at the Wollongong Courthouse and the Coroner’s Court. She enjoyed that work. She remained on antidepressant medication from time to time until 2011.
  1. Ms Evans met the deceased through her work at Port Kembla Court. They developed a close friendship. The deceased informed Ms Evans about her relationship with Mr Rawlinson. Ms Evans confided in the deceased about her problems with Mr Field, from whom the deceased told her to get away as she did not like him. The deceased also assisted Ms Evans with her son when he was arrested in 2011.
  1. Mr Field assaulted Ms Evans in April 2011. His parole was revoked. The deceased provided support for her at that time. Ms Evans attended the deceased’s birthday party in June that year. She was unaware that the deceased and Mr Field had been involved sexually some little time beforehand. Ms Evans also attended Mr Rawlinson’s birthday party in July. Mr Rawlinson revealed to Ms Evans that the deceased and Mr Field had been together. She became upset about this.
  1. Ms Evans reported to Dr Furst that Mr Rawlinson told her at around this time he was going to kill himself. She also reported that Mr Rawlinson told her that the deceased intended to hurt her children and have her daughter removed from her care. Ms Evans began to doubt everyone, including the deceased. She reported to Dr Furst that she believed everything that Mr Rawlinson told her, and what he said about what the deceased was going to do to her son.
  1. Ms Evans became involved in an intimate relationship with Mr Rawlinson from the end of August 2011. She described him to Dr Furst as appearing to be “the perfect man”.
  1. Ms Evans has no drug or alcohol history of significance.