Andrew Smith was shot dead in his family home just before Christmas last year.
Andrew Smith was shot dead in his family home just before Christmas last year.

Man murdered over burnt dinner

PETER John Smith made a promise to his wife that she took as jest.

The then-69-year-old told her, "I'm going to kill the c**t", referring to the couple's 30-year-old son who he had moments earlier scuffled with over a burnt omelette.

He walked past her carrying a loaded shotgun. She replied, simply: "Yeah right, of course you are."

Then she heard two loud bangs.

Andrew Smith, a recovering ice addict, bled to death from two gunshot wounds. Peter left the room, walked outside the couple's home in Mulgrave, in Melbourne's east, and told his wife to call the police.

Later he would admit to Homicide Squad detectives: "I've just had enough."

In his first police interview, Peter said: "I just loaded the shotgun and shot him twice.

"I knew I'd killed him. It just happened. I couldn't take any more. It's over now, I don't have to worry."

On Wednesday, in the Victorian Supreme Court, the now-70-year-old stood as he was jailed for 19 years. He will serve a minimum of 14 years before he is eligible for parole.

 

Peter John Smith, right, pleaded guilty to the murder of his son, Andrew, left.
Peter John Smith, right, pleaded guilty to the murder of his son, Andrew, left.

Justice Andrew Tinney said the events leading up to Andrew's murder on December 18, 2017 were normal, but that Peter snapped after the pair argued.

"You shot him following a minor disagreement you had with him earlier that evening," Mr Tinney said.

"In the mundane events which unfolded on that evening, there was no warning of the shocking event that would end the life of your only son."

Mr Tinney said Andrew, Peter, Peter's wife Kathleen and a friend began drinking in the backyard and were "in good spirits".

Andrew, a father of two young boys, went inside with his mum to help prepare omelettes for dinner. As Peter sat in the family yard drinking beer, Andrew walked out and tipped a frying pan full of burnt omelette on the ground.

"What are you doing?" Peter asked him. "That will make the dog sick."

Andrew responded aggressively. "F**k you. F**k the dog. You'll be dead in a year."

The pair wrestled and Andrew "goaded" his father into striking him.

"Have a go at me and I'll kill you," Andrew told him.

The pair wrestled with Peter being pushed to ground and sustaining minor cuts. Andrew went inside to bed and Peter had dinner before going to his bedroom where he made the decision to kill his son, the court heard.

"Well, I'll end all this right now," he told himself, before walking outside, grabbing a shotgun from beneath a bench in a caravan, loading it, and walking past his wife and into Andrew's room.

Andrew was asleep on the bed when Peter pushed the door open and turned on the lights. He woke and shouted at his father, who unloaded both barrels of the shotgun.

Andrew was shot twice - once in the lower lumbar and once in the upper chest. He died almost instantly.

 

Andrew Smith shouted at his father before he was shot and killed.
Andrew Smith shouted at his father before he was shot and killed.

 

"You took a shotgun to a defenceless man," Mr Tinney told him today. "Yours was a shocking, senseless and inexcusable crime. It is a particular tragedy that Andrew's two young sons will grow up not knowing their father."

Mr Tinney said Peter could not rely on the defence that he snapped in a moment of weakness, because "you did spend some time planning what you were going to do".

The judge considered Peter's ongoing, previously undiagnosed depression as a factor and told the court that moral culpability is somewhat reduced because of the condition.

He suggested that Peter may die in prison.

The court today heard that Andrew was a reformed drug addict, who had battled addiction to ice and synthetic cannabis. He and his father often fought, but the fights increased in frequency in the months before Andrew's murder.

Peter was diagnosed with low grade bowel cancer but had successful surgery in 2017. He has no relevant prior convictions.

He will not be eligible for parole until at least 2032, having already spent 316 days in custody.


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