"Till death do us part”

WAYNE Barry Rankin told his ex-partner that if she ever left him and took their children away he would kill her.

During months of stalking and threats in the lead-up to Briona Buxton's murder, Rankin on one occasion ran his fingers across his throat and said, “Till death do us part”.

Buxton's parents heard this in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton yesterday before the 55-year-old was sentenced to life in prison.

Rankin pleaded guilty to murdering Buxton, 38, in Gladstone on August 20, 2008. He also pleaded guilty to a number of weapon charges including one count of unlawful wounding.

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne said Rankin developed a growing obsession over Buxton and in March 2008, they separated.

Rankin didn't take the separation well and began months of threats and stalking.

Mr Byrne said on one occasion, prior to his moving out after the separation, he had taken naked photos of Buxton and told her he would send the photos to her employer to ruin her reputation.

Buxton believed she had been drugged at the time.

The murder victim's parents moved to Gladstone for about a month in June 2008.

One night when they were out at a restaurant for dinner, they saw Rankin walk past several times.

Mr Byrne said he ran his fingers across his throat and said, “Till death do us part”.

In the lead-up to her murder, Rankin assaulted a male friend of Buxton's and left abusive messages on her phone as well as threatening to cut the beams from the house.

He sought to have keys cut after Buxton changed the locks at her house.

On an occasion prior to their separation, Rankin threatened Buxton with the words: “If you ever leave me and take my kids away from me, I'll kill you”.

At 5.45am on August 20, 2008, neighbours heard a woman screaming and two or three gunshots.

A neighbour next door heard a woman call out “No!” several times.

The neighbour ran over to find Buxton lying dead and Rankin lying nearby with a revolver on the ground next to him.

Rankin had ambushed Buxton in her Gladstone yard carrying with him a backpack with, among other items, a rope, razor and zip ties.

Mr Byrne said Buxton parked his vehicle a block away from the house so she wasn't suspicious and he retrieved his gun from a bush under which he previously buried it.

Rankin, who was a member of the Sporting Shooters Association, told police he tried to shoot himself in the head, but the gun jumped, hitting him in the stomach.

When asked what happened to Buxton, he said he shot her.

Buxton also had a stab wound to her chest.

Mr Byrne described it as an intended murder and suicide attempt.

He said the pair met around 1991, had a child together and formed a de-facto relationship.

They were living as a family with their child and Rankin's child from a former partner in Gladstone from 2003 up until the separation in 2008.

“He (Rankin) was the owner and user of a firearm and was in possession of the ultimate murder weapon during these years,” Mr Byrne said.

Rankin had served 825 days in pre-sentence custody.

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