Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Murder victim Tara Brown cared immensely for others, emotional mother tells Brisbane court

New Zealand-born Tara Brown died as a result of injuries sustained when her ex-boyfriend Lionel Patea drove her off the road and assaulted her with a length of iron. Photo / Instagram
New Zealand-born Tara Brown died as a result of injuries sustained when her ex-boyfriend Lionel Patea drove her off the road and assaulted her with a length of iron. Photo / Instagram

Warning disturbing content

Tara Brown's mother has read a harrowing victim impact statement in court.

Earlier Lionel Patea pleaded guilty in Brisbane to murdering the Kiwi-born woman, his ex-partner.

About 40 of Brown's family and friends were in the courtroom this morning to hear Patea's last-minute plea change.

Read more: Lionel Patea pleads guilty to murdering Tara Brown

Justice Mullins addressed Patea first, telling him: "It's really important that you listen carefully".

Patea stared ahead as the mother of his victim read her statement.

"I am the mother of Tara Brown, deceased," began Natalie Hinton, supported by her partner, Jonathan Gardner.

"I speak with extreme fondness of my daughter. She was a lover, loving and loved.

"She was a lover of life. From a very young age Tara would explore and seek fun, push herself to the limits, give anything a go. The world was her oyster.

"She cared immensely and was always willing to help others."

Hinton said Brown was "empathetic, warm, trusting" and had a pleasant disposition.

Brown cherished her friends and family and was "forever present" at gatherings and social events.

Hinton said she was haunted by the echo of her daughter's laughter, her joyful banter, her dimples and beautiful smile.

She said when Patea entered her daughter's life she saw "a cycle of domestic violence unravel".

Natalie Hinton hugs supporters outside the Brisbane Supreme Court while attending the trial of Lionel Patea who has been charged with the murder of her daughter Tara Brown. Photo / Courier Mail
Natalie Hinton hugs supporters outside the Brisbane Supreme Court while attending the trial of Lionel Patea who has been charged with the murder of her daughter Tara Brown. Photo / Courier Mail

Patea, according to Hinton, was self-centred, a narcissist and a masochist.

His abuse led Brown to doubt herself.

"Her self-confidence declined; the monster was now in control," Hinton said.

"She feared him, which increased my fear of him."

Hinton said when her daughter realised her emotional needs were not being met and decided to leave, Patea took it badly.

He saw it as Brown being selfish and Hinton said he "tried to make her life hell with abuse and repulsive threats until the day he murdered her".

When Hinton was called on September 8, 2015, she knew Patea had done his worst.

"I knew I knew in the pit of my stomach he had found her," Hinton said.

She spoke about sitting at her daughter's bedside soon after the horrendous attack.

"There lay Tara in hospital. Motionless, bandaged, bruised, black and blue, broken and swollen ... a shadow of her beauty," she said, her body shaking as she tried to control her tears.

"And then I was told the words a parent should never have to hear in a life time 'the magnitude of Tara's injuries are fatal and she is not going to make it'.

"Tara was dying.

"But ... she continued to give. Her huge heart found the strength to grasp on to life another 36 hours and she gave us all time to say goodbye.

"On the 9th day of the 9th month at 9pm Tara passes away and my whole world caved in around me.

"This masochistic narcissist had murdered my baby girl."

Hinton said her life had not been the same since Brown died and she struggled with feelings of guilt over not being able to protect her own child from Patea.

"It has been changed forever because of one person's selfish act," she said.

Causing further pain, Hinton has had to cope with raising her granddaughter, and helping her other three children through the loss of their sister.

"I still hear her voice and laughter ... I have a very vivid and constant replay of her incredible beauty playing in my head ... I still find it hard to believe she is gone."

Self-medicating

The court heard that Patea cannot remember murdering his ex-partner.

His lawyer has revealed that in the days leading up to the brutal attack Patea was self-medicating with illicit substances.

He remembered some parts of chasing Brown around the Gold Coast in his car, but not the crucial moments.

"He has no recollection of the incident," his lawyer told the court.

"He recalls part of the incident at the intersection but he can't recall the incident itself."

Patea has written a letter to the court which has been handed to Justice Mullins.

The pair's relationship

The court earlier heard details of Brown and Patea's relationship.

It has been revealed that Brown had left Patea after an altercation at Auckland Airport as the pair were waiting to fly back to the Gold Coast after a trip home.

She spent time in a safe house and was "trying to get her life back together" and find a new home for herself and her young daughter.

The day she was killed she dropped the little girl at daycare.

Little did she know Patea had earlier called the daycare centre to confirm that his child would be attending that day.

When Brown left the centre Patea followed her, chasing her at speeds of up to 200km/h before ramming her car off the road.

As Brown fled Patea she managed to call 000, Australia's emergency services line.

The court heard this morning that the 24-year-old could be "heard screaming for help".

"She was screaming that he is going to stab her," the prosecutor said.

Brown repeatedly yelled to the 000 operator where she was driving.

"Sounds of a crash can then be heard ... a short time later she can be heard in a very subdued, almost moaning tone, saying 'help me, help me, help me'," said the prosecutor, explaining the call.

The 000 operator tried to get Brown to speak to her, but there was no response.

"Lionel stop ... Please help me," Brown was heard to say.

Sixteen "thumping sounds" could then be heard on the 000 call.

Then, another female shouting "what the **** are you doing?".

Patea responded with "she's got my kid", then a further 13 thumping noises.

And then, silence.

- NZ Herald

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