Former soldier jailed for life for second time for stabbing murder of ex-partner

Former soldier Dane Andrew Pilcher has been sentenced to life in jail after being found guilty at a retrial of murdering his ex-girlfriend in a “cruel and savage” stabbing attack in Townsville 2015.

Dec 09, 2020, updated Dec 09, 2020
Corinne Henderson was stabbed 21 times in a savage attack in Townsville in 2015. Photo: Sally Jupp/ABC

Corinne Henderson was stabbed 21 times in a savage attack in Townsville in 2015. Photo: Sally Jupp/ABC

Corinne Henderson was 32 when Pilcher broke into her home and stabbed her 21 times after seeing a photograph of her with another man at the races.

Pilcher, who was previously found guilty of Henderson’s murder and appealed that conviction, maintained throughout the six-day retrial in the Supreme Court in Townsville that he was guilty of manslaughter but not murder.

His lawyers argued he had not entered Henderson’s home with murderous intent on the night that she died.

Crown prosecutor Aaron Dunkerton opposed that suggestion throughout the trial, referencing text messages that Pilcher sent to a friend that read that he was going to “kill” both Henderson and the man she was photographed with at the races.

The jury found Pilcher guilty after about seven hours of deliberation.

Cries of relief from Henderson’s long-time friend Sally Jupp filled the courtroom once the guilty verdict was read.

Pilcher showed no emotion.

Victim impact statements prepared by Henderson’s mother, father, and two brothers during the first trial were read to the court again.

In his final remarks, Justice David North said the only sentence for murder was life imprisonment.

“True it is that you pleaded guilty to manslaughter and you somewhat belatedly acknowledged your responsibility for the unlawful killing of Corinne Henderson,” he said.

“Your attack upon her occurred in the context of an obsessive, jealous rage because Corinne Henderson had ended your relationship and had bestowed her affections upon another.

“It is an ancient theme but it continues to this day — such a cruel and savage attack can have no excuse.

“The jury’s verdict gives me but one sentence to impose, a sentence imposed by law, that is life imprisonment.”

Speaking outside of court on Wednesday morning, Jupp said she was relieved to hear the jury’s verdict after hours of deliberations.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said.

“Although there was never any doubt that it was murder, the question was around provocation.

“You don’t expect the jury to take that long because you would think it would be cut and dried, but the law is a lot more complicated than that.

“Altogether the jury took about seven hours, so you start to get a little nervous.”

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Upon hearing the verdict, Jupp cried in the courtroom.

“Today, justice prevailed,” she said.

“One of the toughest parts of today was listening to the four victim statements and it gives you an understanding idea of the impact that this has had for five years on Corinne’s family and friends and loved ones.

“He gets a life sentence, but at least he gets a life.

Jupp said she hoped Pilcher was “very aware of the impact that he has made on so many lives”.

“Corinne never gets to come back, she never gets to get married, or have kids, and her family are going to be traumatised by this forever,” she said.

“I do not want to give that man another inch of my time or energy and neither do the family — this is the time to close the book.”

Jupp said Corinne Henderson would be remembered fondly for years to come.

“Corinne was an amazing person,” she said.

“She was the most caring person, she had the biggest heart, and was so devoted to her career and her family.”

– ABC / Chloe Chomicki

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