Emma Lovell murder: Australian teen jailed for 14 years for stabbing British mother in the heart

Teenager sentenced two years after British woman killed in Boxing Day attack

Shweta Sharma
Monday 13 May 2024 09:14 BST
Related British woman stabbed to death in Australia by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’

An Australian teenager who stabbed a British woman to death has been sentenced to 14 years in jail for murder.

Emma Lovell, 41, a mother of two, was attacked in her home in North Lakes in Queensland on Boxing Day holiday in 2022, when police say two teenage boys broke into her house.

Lovell and her husband confronted the duo and were attacked. She later died of a stab wound to the heart.

Brisbane’s Supreme Court sentenced the teenage attacker on Monday. He is now 19 years old but will not be named as he was a minor when the offence was committed.

Justice Tom Sullivan said that the murder of the British woman was a “particularly heinous” crime.

He described the victims as a “loving family” who were building a life for themselves in a new country.

“They were ordinary citizens enjoying their family life in their home where they were entitled to feel safe. What happened... violated that entirely,” Justice Sullivan said.

Lovell and her husband Lee migrated from Suffolk to Brisbane with their daughters in 2011. Her husband was also injured in the attack.

The teenager pleaded guilty to the murder in March this year. He also admitted to charges of burglary and assault.

Another suspect who has been charged in relation to the case is yet to enter pleas. His case has been listed for a hearing later this month.

The stabbing took place outside their home and was captured on the family’s CCTV. Video footage of the incident was played in the courtroom to a gallery of people including Lovell’s two daughters, her husband and others.

The court was told that the couple were woken up by their dogs barking in their home in the suburb of North Lakes, about 45km (30 miles) north of Brisbane.

Outside in the garden, Lovell was stabbed in the heart with an 11.5cm knife. The police arrived on the scene to find her two teenage daughters crying and calling for help before medics performed open heart surgery on the front lawn of her home.

Lovell died shortly after she was taken to hospital.

Her death led to widespread outrage in Australia and ultimately resulted in the state of Queensland passing stricter youth crime laws.

According to Queensland legislation, juveniles can typically be ordered to serve a maximum of 70 per cent of their custodial sentence, unless special circumstances warrant otherwise.

Justice Sullivan said that the teen’s offence falls under the category of a violent act, meaning that he could hand him a jail sentence over 10 years.

"It is correct to describe the offence in this case as atrocious and one which would create a sense of outrage in the general community," he said.

Lee Lovell, who had called for the teenager to receive a life sentence, said he welcomed Monday’s ruling. He nonetheless said that it was not justice, as nothing would bring his wife back.

“No, I don’t feel justice is served one bit really, no,” he said. “We’ve got up to 10 years which is more than I thought it was going to be.

“I suppose it was good to get 14 years, but it will never be enough. It’s never going to bring Emma back.”

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