A judge has found no truth to a self defence story told by 44-year-old Richard Reay, before convicting him of murdering his cellmate Geoffrey John Fardell (pictured).
A judge has found no truth to a self defence story told by 44-year-old Richard Reay, before convicting him of murdering his cellmate Geoffrey John Fardell (pictured). Contributed

Murder verdict delivered over man killed at Kempsey prison

A man has been found guilty of the 2019 murder of a jail inmate he shared a cell with at the Mid-North Coast Correctional Facility in Kempsey.  

Supreme Court Justice Robert Hulme found Richard Jason Reay, 44, concocted an elaborate story to police about acting in self defence when he strangled Ballina man Geoffrey Fardell to death between June 10 and 11, 2019.  

Justice Hulme delivered his murder verdict in the judge-only trial at Port Macquarie Supreme Court on Wednesday, accepting that there was no doubt the accused was "intent on seeing him [Mr Fardell] die".  

"I do not conclude that the accused was attacked by Mr Fardell," Justice Hulme said.

  "The accused and the deceased were locked in a cell and the deceased died by strangulation.

The death was not an act of suicide, the accused killed the deceased."  

During the trial, the court heard evidence from the defence that Reay - a well-known criminal from Windale in Lake Macquarie - acted in self defence when he used a makeshift clothesline in the cell to strangle Mr Fardell while he was being attacked.  

The court heard an argument had erupted between the pair over the volume of the television, and escalated when the deceased retaliated towards Reay after being told to 'turn it down'.  

The court heard Reay "genuinely believed his conduct was necessary to defend himself but he also accepts his conduct was not reasonable in the circumstance".  

However Justice Hulme found that Reay's version of events, in that he acted in self defence when Fardell delivered a 'flurry' of punches to his body were 'entirely implausible'.  

"The accused's account of self defence is entirely implausible," Justice Hulme said.  

"I do not believe any of it. There is no self defence case to consider."  

During the trial, the court heard how the pair shared a cell at the Mid-North Coast Correctional Facility which housed a bunk bed, a television, and a makeshift curtain.  

The Crown Prosecutor, John Stanhope, told the court Mr Reay and Mr Fardell had no previous association with each other until they were made to share the same cell at the correctional centre on June 2, 2019.  

The pair returned to their cell on the afternoon of June 10, and nobody accessed their cell door until the following morning during a routine milk delivery by one of the other inmates, the court heard.

  "Both the accused and the deceased were locked in the cell by 3.20pm, neither of them had complaints or concerns made to correction offices by that time," Mr Stanhope said.

  "After the door was locked, there was no other person who had access to the cell."  

The court heard correctional service officers were alerted to Mr Fardell's death after the inmate who did the milk rounds was told by Mr Reay his "celli's dead".  

The inmate, who gave evidence during the trial, said he was told by Mr Reay that Mr Fardell had "gotten on the ground" the night before and had died.  

The court heard a sheet had been put over Mr Fardell's body, which is how he was discovered by officers the morning of June 11.  

The prosecutor said when officers initially inspected Mr Fardell's body "they couldn't see any visible injury to the deceased, (but) there was some fluid near where his head had been".  

However, when senior crime scene investigators inspected the body later that day, they discovered "marks around the neck of the deceased, indentations about 1cm wide running the full circumference of the neck with an irregularity on one side and a marking on the neck".  

The court heard the markings were "consistent with some form of ligature to the neck" and officers proceeded to examine "the power cables and the makeshift curtain" in the cell.  

They couldn't be sure at the time however what was linked to the markings on Mr Fardell's neck.  

Mr Fardell died from "neck compression, consistent with the ligature strangulation", the court heard.   Justice Hulme said he was "satisfied" the cause of death was unlawful, and intentional.  

"I am satisfied that the accused cause the death of Geoffrey Fardell by unlawfully strangling him with the intention of killing him, or at least causing grievous bodily harm," he said.  

Justice Hulme will sentence Reay on April 16.

News Corp Australia


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