LOST CHILD: Kathleen Jones' pain is still raw six years after her daughter, Justine, was killed by Richard Coburn. File photo.
LOST CHILD: Kathleen Jones' pain is still raw six years after her daughter, Justine, was killed by Richard Coburn. File photo. Brett Wortman / 192580

Life does not go on for mother of murdered Justine Jones

SIX years after her Justine Jones's death, her mother Kathleen remains a broken mix of grief, burning anger and tears.

She cannot bring herself to use the name of the man who took her daughter's life, Richard Coburn.

She often can hardly bring herself to leave the house. Life is less painful when you cannot see it passing by.

"I don't go out much. You see people with families, girls growing up, friends..." she said.

"I basically stay inside. I stay asleep in the day and do things at night."

Kathleen's life changed with a phone call in 2010. Justine was missing.

 

Kathleen and Jackie Jones talk one year after the murder of their daughter and sister, Justine Jones.Photo: Cade Mooney / Sunshine Coast Daily
Kathleen and Jackie Jones talk one year after the murder of their daughter and sister, Justine Jones.Photo: Cade Mooney / Sunshine Coast Daily Cade Mooney

The 22-year-old had moved to the Sunshine Coast the year before from the small town of Narooma, on the New South Wales south coast, to join her older sister, Jackie.

She became involved with Coburn, who was one of Jackie's housemates, but their relationship was marred by arguments and violence.

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Justine moved on and moved out. She had a new beau and was living in a unit at Alexandra Headland when Coburn dropped around on July 7, 2010. Justine was never seen again.

Her body was found eight days later at the Nambour tip, so badly damaged from being compacted in a garbage truck that experts could not establish the cause of death.

 

Police forensic officers and a photographer look through the rubbish where Justine Jones' body was found.
Police forensic officers and a photographer look through the rubbish where Justine Jones' body was found. Cade Mooney/cm192426

Coburn was charged with murder but a jury found him guilty of manslaughter, and he was sentenced in 2013 to 10-and-a-half years jail.

With time served in custody before his trial taken into account, and in light of his good behaviour in jail, he was given parole barely two years later and reportedly deported to New Zealand.

Kathleen said her daughter's killer had been paroled before she was officially told about it.

"I'd heard about it and two days later, this letter come in the mail saying he's been given parole," she said.

It hurts Kathleen to think that was all her daughter's life was worth. She cannot understand why someone who takes a life in the United States serves a minimum of 15 or 25 years, but in Australia is out on the streets within a couple of years of fronting court.

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"People get more for drink driving than what he's done," she said.

Any progress she had made since Justine's death was undone with Coburn's parole.

"I've been really angry for the last year or so. I just went back," she said.

For Kathleen, there are still unanswered questions about what happened to Justine, gaps in the story that were not filled during the questioning of witnesses at Coburn's trial.

"And because he kept his mouth shut and pleaded not guilty, we don't know," she said.

"It's not a justice system at all, it's judges in their own worlds. The lawyers, how they speak about it. It's just so hard to know what happened to her."

The chance to put forward a victim impact statement did not give her the opportunity to truly express the impact of Justine's death.

"The judge read it out. I wanted the family to read it out. You ought to be able to have your say. They (the perpetrator) should have to look at you."

Kathleen is considering travelling to Queensland later this year to seek answers the answers she needs about Coburn's parole and about what happened to Justine.

She also hopes to be able to take home some of Justine's belongings, which were collected during the police investigation into her death.

She has a headstone ready for Justine's grave at Narooma but has not been ready to place it there yet.

"I think subconsciously, I know that will be it. She's gone."



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