"Lionel stop.... Please help me...."

These were the last words Tara Brown ever spoke.

Trapped in the wreckage of her Mazda hatchback the mum-of-one begged for her life.

She begged the call taker who had picked up her 000 call, she begged the people who came running out after her car ploughed down an embankment into the yard of a Gold Coast home - but most of all she begged her ex-partner Lionel Patea.


He had just chased her across the Gold Coast, reaching speeds of 200km/h as he tried to stop her, block her car, catch her.

He had just rammed her off the road, smashed her driver's window and tried to pull her out of the mangled car.

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And now he was coming at her with a 7.8kg, solid metal weapon - the lid from an underground fire hydrant.

Thump. He brought the lid down, smashing it into her face.

He kept thumping. Patea thumped Brown 16 times around the head with that metal lid.

Lisa Kennedy came running over, screamed at him "what the f**k are you doing?'.

"She's got my kid," Patea said, then lifted the lid and started thumping Brown again.


He hit her another 13 times.

Then he stopped.

Brown was no longer begging. She was silent.

Lionel Patea was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Tara Brown. Photo / Supplied
Lionel Patea was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Tara Brown. Photo / Supplied

Tara Brown was born and raised in Auckland and moved to the Gold Coast with her family as a teenager.

In 2011 she started a relationship with Lionel John Patea and a year later the young couple welcomed their first child together, a little girl whose name was suppressed by the court.

Photos of the pair show a young couple in love with each other, and enamoured with their child. Patea was a member of the Bandito's gang, a sergeant at arms in fact,

But behind the smiles, the happy snapshots of the photogenic family, was a life of hidden abuse and control.

Brown began to succumb to Patea's threats, orders and diminishing comments. The once-confident young woman started to doubt herself. Her self-confidence was being eroded by the man she loved.

The couple broke up and reconciled multiple times, police were called, protection orders were granted after domestic violence was reported.

It was on a trip to New Zealand in 2015 that Brown decided to leave Patea for the last time. She was done.

She never could have imagined that decision would be fatal.

The beginning of the end of Brown's life started in the departures lounge at Auckland International Airport.

She had come home for a few days with her mother to help scatter her grandfather's ashes and was heading back to the Gold Coast, where she'd been living for a few years, when it all kicked off.

Patea had also returned to New Zealand but, tellingly, was travelling separately to Brown and her mother.

They were returning to Australia on the same day, but on different flights, and said their goodbyes at the airport.

Patea walked off towards his gate and Brown pulled out her phone and started to text a friend.

Suddenly, Patea was right behind her, reading over her shoulder, furious at what he thought he was seeing.

Apparently he thought she was being unfaithful. He grabbed at her phone. She ran off. He chased her through the airport.

Airport security guards had to intervene, separate the couple.

The both made their flights, and when they got home all hell broke loose.

Brown went straight home to pack her things and her enraged partner arrived while she was there.

They argued, he pushed and shoved her, pinned her to the bed.

Patea told her to move out of the home they shared, told her she could not take their daughter - in fact, that she could not see the child.

But he refused to let her leave the house and cut her off from the outside world.

Using Brown's cellphone, Patea transferred money from her account to his, used her Facebook account to send messages to her friends, employer, telling them what she had done.

The fact was, she had done nothing. But he was adamant he'd been wronged and he was hell bent on making people believe it.

After a few days he kicked Brown out but did not let her take their daughter - even when he had to go away to work at his mining job he left the child with his aunt and demanded periodic photographic proof that the girl was not with her mother.

Brown disclosed what was happening to her boss - she was an administrator at a law firm - and was helped into a safe house.

Over the next few days Brown worked with her boss on an application for sole custody for their daughter and started planning her new life without her abusive partner.

Brown stayed with a friend a few nights before she was killed and said she was looking forward to getting her life back, getting a routine sorted for their daughter and living her own life.

Natalie Hinton, Tara Brown's mother, with family and friends outside the Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday. Photo / News Corp
Natalie Hinton, Tara Brown's mother, with family and friends outside the Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday. Photo / News Corp

On Monday 7 September 2015, Brown's custody order was served on Patea's solicitor.

Arguably it was this that tipped the 24-year-old totally over the edge.

He'd been trying to find Brown since she went to the safe house, effectively hunting her.

She had a protection order meaning he could not come near her. Evidently it meant nothing to Patea.

Brown was staying with her aunt that night, and at about 8.30am on Tuesday 8 September, she left the safety of the house to take their daughter to day care.

If she'd known Patea had called the day care centre half an hour earlier to ask if the girl was coming in for the day, she likely would have thought twice.

Tara Brown was born and raised in Auckland and moved to the Gold Coast with her family as a teenager. Photo / Instagram
Tara Brown was born and raised in Auckland and moved to the Gold Coast with her family as a teenager. Photo / Instagram

Brown dropped her wee girl off, got into her Mazda and pulled out of the carpark.

Seconds later Patea, in his black SUV, was right behind her.

She panicked and called 000.

"Help me... he's going to stab me..." Brown pleaded with the call taker.

She stopped at an intersection, the red traffic light impeding her getaway and allowing Patea to scream up beside her, pull in in front of the Mazda and cut her off.

He stormed up to her window, punching and pummelling the glass with both fists demanding she get out.

The light changed and she sped off, Patea grabbing at her doorhandle as she fled.

He kept chasing.

She kept pleading for help, repeatedly screaming the name of the suburb she was in and asking for the police to come.

She never hung up the phone. Her entire murder was recorded, overheard by a call taker who was helpless to stop Patea.

When this violent and tragic tale was relayed in the Brisbane Supreme Court today, Patea did not flinch.

He sat, staring blankly ahead and showing absolutely no emotion as the prosecution detailed the last terrifying and violent minutes of Brown's life.

His face did not change as a photograph of the 7.8kg metal murder weapon - a weapon that Patea left lying on Brown's face when the attack was over - was shown to the court.

He did not react to the sounds of Brown's family sobbing behind him.

His lawyer would later tell the court Patea "had no recollection of the incident".

The "incident" was the excessively violent, horrifically brutal and utterly senseless murder of Tara Brown - a young Kiwi with her whole life ahead of her, a woman he once loved, the mother of his child.

Patea may not remember doing it - but what he did is something so many people will never forget.

Tara's mother hears the worst

Brown's mother Natalie Hinton hugs supporters outside court. Photo / Supplied
Brown's mother Natalie Hinton hugs supporters outside court. Photo / Supplied

"There lay Tara in hospital. Motionless, bandaged, bruised, black and blue, broken and swollen ... a shadow of her beauty.

"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."

As Tara Brown's mother, Natalie Hinton, read these words from her victim impact statement in the Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday, there was barely a dry eye in the room. She shook, her voice shook - but she delivered a powerful statement metres away from the man who had just admitted beating Brown to death.

"I am the mother of Tara Brown, deceased. 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."

Hinton, who was born and raised in New Zealand, said when Patea entered her daughter's life she saw "a cycle of domestic violence unravel".

"She feared him, which increased my fear of him," she said. "He tried to make her life hell with abuse and repulsive threats until the day he murdered her."

Hinton said Patea was "a monster" and when he killed Brown her "whole world caved in around" her.

"I still find it hard to believe she is gone."

Countdown to tragedy


Tara Brown born in Auckland

2011: Brown starts relationship with Lionel Patea on the Gold Coast

2012: The couple have a daughter

August 2015: Brown travels to New Zealand with her mother Natalie Hinton to spread the ashes of her grandfather. Patea also travels home, but separately. While waiting for departing flights Patea confronts Brown at Auckland International Airport and security has to separate them.

September 2015: Back on the Gold Coast Brown decides to leave Patea. He tells her to move out but then, refuses to let her leave the house.

September 3: Brown tells her boss about the domestic abuse and violence she has been suffering. She moves to a safe house.

September 6: Brown stays with a friend and says she wants her life back, starts looking for a new home.

September 8: Brown stays with her aunt overnight and then drops her daughter at daycare. Patea follows her from the daycare centre, runs her off the road and beats her to death as she lies trapped in her car.

27 February 2017: Patea is set to stand trial for murder, but pleads guilty to the charge on the first day.