Selfie and then ‘pure evil’ murder
ROBIN and Kerry Michael's marriage began happily surrounded by snow on a mountain in Canada. It was on another mountain, this time in Tasmania six years later, the marriage ended in the most violent and brutal way.
The South Australian couple were on six-week holiday in 2015 and were near the top of Mt Roland, in Tasmania's northwest, when Michael attacked his 44-year-old wife, battering her to death with rocks he'd gathered from the mountain.
The 63-year-old told a police officer of the brutal attack after he had been arrested. He said he struck her initially once and then wrestled her to the ground after she asked why he hit her. Then he used other rocks to kill her.
Michael left her body on the mountain side laying face down and then tried to take his own life. He was found with self-inflicted injuries at a caravan park and taken to hospital, where he told the officer what had occurred.
But when Michael, a former general manager of Royal Darwin Hospital, was charged with murder, he pleaded not guilty. He suicided in Risdon Prison near Hobart in June 2015.
An inquest into Mrs Michael's death was held by coroner Simon Cooper who today released his findings.
"In this case there is no doubt that Mrs Michael died as a result of homicide and therefore her death had to be investigated in the coronial jurisdiction, irrespective of what other investigations had taken place and no matter what other legal proceedings had arisen from it," he said.
The final day of Kerry's life involved a hike, a visit to the brewery and then finally a drive to Mt Roland.
"After parking the car at the bottom of Mount Roland, the couple climbed to the top of the mountain and ate lunch at the summit," Mr Cooper said. "Just below the summit, shortly before reaching the trig point, Mr and Mrs Michael stopped on the track and posed for a "selfie" photograph using the digital camera on a delayed timer."
The photo was taken at 1.01pm.
It was shortly after, as they began to walk down from the summit, the attack began. A post mortem revealed Kerry may have been struck as many as eight times.
"At least one of those blows (a blow to the back of her head which shattered the base of her skull and caused massive injury to her brain stem and cerebellum) was landed when Mrs Michael was lying face down on the ground," Mr Cooper said.
"Mrs Michael was found at autopsy to have suffered extensive injuries to the front, back and side of her head. The injuries sustained by Mrs Michael in the attack upon her by her husband were massive. Dr Lawrence said that Mrs Michael would quickly have succumbed to the injuries and that they were unsurvivable."
Horrifyingly, there were signs of the desperate struggle and fight Kerry went through as she fought to survive the assault that occurred along 20m off the walking track.
"Dr Lawrence identified defensive type injuries to her arms, wrists and legs as well as abrasions and bruising he considered were likely to have been sustained as she attempted to get away from her husband over rough terrain," Mr Cooper said.
"Mr Michael's blood was found under his wife's finger nails. Her blood was found on his clothing and inside the couple's Landcruiser.
"It is apparent from Dr Lawrence's evidence and that of a forensic scientist who attended the crime scene and gave evidence at the inquest that the attack on Mrs Michael was brutal, vicious and sustained."
It was once Kerry was off the mountain - not knowing if his wife was alive or dead - he drafted a will and then posted a confession on Facebook where he admitted an act of "pure evil".
"I have committed an act which should attract no pity, no sympathy, not even any understanding. I can't understand it," Michael wrote hours after his wife's death.
"That it was an effect, rather than a cause, bears no consequence. It was not appropriate, necessary, nor anything really other than pure evil."
It was that post that shocked Kerry's family so much they contacted police.
In the post Michael alleged his wife had been having an affair with a friend.
"The other party is X, one of the people closest to me and the non-family member that I have sought to do the most for since I met him," he wrote.
"So why would he think he has a right to engage in an affair with someone that he knows is the centre of my life."
Her family, refused to believe the affair claims. So too did the friend who gave evidence at the inquest.
In his findings, Mr Cooper supported the denials and rejected the affair claims.
"Mr Michael seems to have been of the view that his wife was having an affair with a close male friend of his. He made his suspicions known to both Mrs Michael and his friend. Both strongly denied the allegation.
"It is notable that Mr Michael, some years before, had also accused a former partner of his of having an affair with the same man. Tasmania Police actively investigated the suggestion of an affair in the aftermath of Mrs Michael's death."
He continued: "Absolutely no evidence of the supposed affair was uncovered. Mr Michael's friend whom he suspected of being involved with both his wife and a previous partner of his, denied on oath that anything in the nature of an affair had occurred with either woman.
"I am affirmatively satisfied that Mr Michael's belief was utterly without foundation."
Michael, who had worked in the South Australian health industry for three decades, wrote that he "cracked it".
"To say I cracked and lost it when our quiet mountain descent got real would not do justice to the situation," he said.
"The English language cannot describe my anger and rage. I cannot contemplate it."
He described Mrs Michael as "spectacular as a person, caring, sensitive, considerate and funny" and said vowed to own his actions.
"I have done what I did and will bear full consequence." He hoped his family would not be tarnished forever due to his actions.
"I have committed an act of pure evil and pray it failed," Michael wrote.
"In the heat of the anger with Kerry's admission I had no control or influence over myself."
He continued: "I was so far gone it was surely insanity at its greatest. As I sit and type this now I feel that she is here with me, worrying about what I need and how I am going.
"I hope she is OK. I can't take it back. I can't bring back one of the special ones unless she is as tough as I think she might be."
Mr Cooper found Michael was "by nature extremely jealous and controlling and demonstrated on occasions a propensity to violence towards his partners".
"Notes made by Mrs Michael were found by her son, Nathan, after her death. He identified the handwriting as belonging to his mother. The notes were tendered at the inquest. They outline issues with the relationship between her and Mr Michael dealing with his possessiveness, jealousy and the fact that Mrs Michael felt "trapped" in the relationship."
He concluded there was no other explanation for her death than at the hands of her violent husband.
"I am satisfied on all of the evidence to the requisite legal standard that Mrs Kerry Lyn Michael died as a result of blunt force head injuries sustained by her when she was struck between three and eight times with a rock by her husband, Robin Michael," Mr Cooper added.