One of the strangest stories to come out of Australia’s Supreme Court has the public scratching its head. It all started when a boarder invited his landlord’s ex-lover over for music, booze and pokies, but it ended in disaster when the landlord’s friend shot and killed the man, not once but twice. Despite the victim’s death, court’s ruled “attempted murder”.
No, it’s not an episode of CSI, a plot to a cheesy soap opera or a classic game of Clue. This is a real story that unfurled on the Supreme Court floor, when the defence for Daniel Darrington insisted that he had accidentally shot a man after a struggle, then shot him again to end the man’s suffering.
As it turned out, the victim was already dead. But somehow, shooting a corpse earned him a sentence for attempted murder.
Here’s what happened…
There are four characters who played rolls in the incident.
– Rocky Matskassy, the deceased.
– Mr. Darrington, the guilty party who shot him.
– Steven Domotor, friend of Darrington and the owner of the home where Mr. Matskassy had been boarding.
– Belinda Martin, the ex-girlfriend of Mr. Domotor.
It all began in March of 2015 when Mr. Domotor went away for the weekend. With the home to himself, Mr. Matskassy (the boarder) invited Ms. Martin to the house.
Prosecutor Peter Rose told the jury that Matskassy and Martin “drank, played music and played on a poker machine at the house and Martin eventually slept over on a recliner in the lounge room whilst the (soon to be) deceased slept in his bedroom.”
Upon his return, Mr. Domotor learned of the little party Matskassy had while he was away. He became angry that his tenant invited people into the home while he was gone, telling Mr. Matskassy that we was being evicted.
That’s where Mr. Darrington came into the picture. Darrington confronted Mr. Matskassy, “telling him to get out of his mate’s house,” said Rose. “He stated that he had assaulted the deceased by punching and kicking him in the face… He said he then told the deceased to go and clean himself up in the bathroom.”
Matskassy left, but Darrington said when he returned, he was walking towards him with a pistol behind his back. The two wrestled over the weapon, which Darrington claims discharged by accident, shooting Matskassy in the head.
When authorities arrived at 2.23am on March 22, Matskassy was found multiple with bullet holes in his head and a black sheet covering his body with “a large amount of blood on the floor and around the body”, explained Rose.
Darrington told police the initial shooting was an accident, but that afterwards, the man was twitching. Thinking Matskassy was suffering, Darrington told police went to Matskassy’s bedroom, found more ammunition for the gun, reloaded it and returned to the kitchen where Matskassy’s body was slumped over. After a few minutes of contemplation, he shot the man again.
“He said he did this because the deceased was suffering,” Rose told the court. “The accused said that after he shot the deceased the second time he covered him up with a sheet because he looked horrible and the accused didn’t want to look at him.”
How is that “Attempted Murder”?
The answer to that came from defence barrister John Desmond. He argued first that it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the deceased was in fact dead when the second shot was fired.
“The issue is not ‘did Darrington believe the man was alive’. The issue is was he factually dead,” said Desmond. “If someone’s already dead and you then try to kill him, how can that be attempted murder?
“But the law in this state is because you have the criminal intent to kill and if you, the accused, thought the person was alive, even if he was in fact dead, the law says that would be attempted murder,” Desmond explained.
“So just to quickly repeat – if Matskassy dies as a consequence of the first shot, the subsequent deliberate shots into Matskassy are not murder.”
The jury acquiesced to Desomnd’s reasoning, choosing not to find Darrington guilty of murder or manslaughter, but instead the lesser charge of attempted murder.