Levi Hayes sentenced to life for murdering girlfriend

MURDER TRIAL: Levi Michael Hayes with the 17-year-old Rockhampton girl he was accused of murdering in April 2010, Rhian Elsmore.
MURDER TRIAL: Levi Michael Hayes with the 17-year-old Rockhampton girl he was accused of murdering in April 2010, Rhian Elsmore. Contributed

BREAKING 4PM: Levi Michael Hayes has been found guilty of murdering 17-year-old Rhian Elsmore.

The jury handed down their verdict today, after two hours of deliberating.

Hayes was sentenced to life imprisonment.

12.40pm: THE jury has now retired in the murder trial of Levi Michael Hayes.

Hayes is accused of murdering his 17-year-old girlfriend Rhian Elsmore.

Noon: BOTH the prosecution and defence have made their closing arguments in the murder trial of Levi Michael Hayes.

Hayes has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 17-year-old girlfriend Rhian Elsmore, but guilty to manslaughter.

Her body was found at a Canoona property, north of Rockhampton, in April 2010.

This morning, Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips told the jury the irreducible fact was this was a murder as defined by the law.

"It's a murder every day of the week and twice on Sunday," he said.

Mr Phillips said it was clear from the evidence that when Hayes took the knife and cut Ms Elsmore's throat he intended she would die from it.

However, defence barrister Peter Lynch argued Ms Elsmore had berated Hayes and urged him to do it.

He said Hayes was subservient to her and there was an imbalance in the relationship.

"He said a number of times he did not want her to die," Mr Lynch told the jury.

He also argued the evidence showed Hayes may have been affected by drugs and alcohol at the time.

The jury is expected to retire this afternoon.

10.20am: Levi Hayes was in a sober, clear mind and was aware that his actions when he killed his girlfriend Rhian Elsmore, Crown Prosecutor tells court in closing address.

The murder trial of Hayes over Elsmore's death is coming to a close as Crown Prosecutor presents closing address to jury.

7am: MURDER-accused Levi Michael Hayes claims he tried to talk his girlfriend out of their disturbing suicide pact, but she wouldn't listen.

A recording of his chilling confession to police was played in the Rockhampton Supreme Court yesterday during the second day of his trial.

In the video, Hayes recounts the graphic details of Rhian Elsmore's death.

"I hovered over her trying to prepare myself to do this," he said.

"She said 'be brave, it's only a moment'. I repeated 'f*** you, I love you', growing louder until it was a scream."

The court heard the pair trekked to a spot in thick bushland on a Canoona property one night in April, 2010. After drinking and reflecting on "the happy times", Hayes told police he cut Ms Elsmore's throat at about noon the next day.

"Then I started to be hysterical with sadness and emotion," he said. "It was a very horrific thing to see."

Hayes described how her throat opened up and he heard a "gargly, windy noise".

"She drew me close to a hug," he said.

"It was bizarre to witness. She was so calm."

Ten minutes later, Ms Elsmore was dead. The court heard Hayes held the knife to his own throat, but was unable to kill himself.

He then left Ms Elsmore's body and washed the blood off in a creek before returning to his neighbour's house on the property.

When asked if he tried to talk her out of the plan, Hayes said he suggested she get professional help.

"She threw the idea in my face," he said.

Hayes has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder.

Topics:  editors picks levi michael hayes murder rhian elsmore rockhampton supreme court trial

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