Leon Borthwick gets 5 years for manslaughter, victims sister locked out of sentencing

Mark Zimmer, left, and Leon Borthwick

A GRIEVING sister claims she was barred from entering court to see her brother’s killer sentenced to jail today.

Kornelia Zimmer said she was “manhandled” and “treated like a piece of trash” by Supreme Court security staff this morning when she was stopped from entering the ground-floor level of the court.

Her brother Mark Zimmer’s killer, Leon Borthwick, 20, was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail with a non-parole period of five years. Borthwick was jealous of Mr Zimmer, who had struck up a relationship with his ex-girlfriend, and ran down and killed the 18-year-old on November 16, 2008.

He was convicted of manslaughter by a jury in July.

In sentencing Borthwick, Justice Williams said the man could have prevented the tragedy.

“You saw these young men on the road yet despite the screaming protests of your passengers you took no evasive action to avoid those on the road,” she said.

Justice Katharine Williams was forced to pause twice during her sentence because of Kornelia’s yelling outside court.

Outside court, a tearful Kornelia said she was devastated by the way the court had treated her and her family.

“The whole trial process has been nothing but victimisation and further trauma but he court system, we just need judges that are not prejudicial towards criminals,’’ she said.

Due to a Supreme Court mix-up, Kornelia was also incorrectly told the sentence was at 10.30am – half an hour later than the 10am start.

Today’s sentence was further interrupted by victims of crime advocate Noel McNamara, who walked into court demanding answers.

“Who’s responsible for this?” he asked. “This is a disgrace. A victim’s family should be allowed in the body of the court.”

Supreme Court staff today segregated the Zimmer and Borthwick families, citing security reasons. The Zimmer family and supporters were ordered to take upstairs seating, while Borthwick’s family were seated on the ground floor of the court.

“The seating arrangements were made today with the intention they were the best arrangement for the security and everyone’s comfort and safety,’’ Justice Williams said after reading her sentence.

This was rejected by Mark Zimmer’s parents, Christian and Ruth.

“We spent seven weeks during the trial, we were always allowed in the court, we caused no problems, we behaved ourselves and for some reason during sentencing we were not allowed in the court and Konnie would not accept that because it’s a victim’s right to be in the court even during sentencing,” Mr Zimmer said.

The Zimmer family has vowed to take up the matter with new Attorney-General Robert Clark.

“We need to look at the victims’ charter and look at giving victims some rights in the court preceding, they are treated like second-class citizens,’’ he said.

“It’s not fair. We don’t want to be here, we prefer to much be at home with our son but if we have to be here, treat us like decent human beings.”

This is not the first time the Zimmer family have been frustrated by the legal process.

In September last year, they were stunned when Justice Williams agreed with a defence lawyer’s suggestion to delete parts of their victim impact statement. Justice Williams crossed out sections of their statements, prompting Kornelia to throw her statement up in the air and storm out of court.

Their anguish deepened with Borthwick’s sentence was adjourned three times between July and December, causing a delay of nearly six months.

Borthwick’s trial heard the killing was the culmination of a hate campaign in which he threatened to kill Mr Zimmer and held a knife to his genitals.

Borthwick had driven his van onto the wrong side of the road to hit Mr Zimmer, after he had already made a series of threats warning him to stay away from Borthwick’s ex-girlfriend.

He had earlier claimed the death was an accident.

During the emotional court case, Mr Zimmer’s father Christian had told the court, he lives with the memory of his dying son in his arms and the taste of blood in his mouth after desperately trying to resuscitate him.

And he told the court in an earlier pre-sentence hearing that he had begged God not to take his son.

“I tried so hard to save my child’s life, but so much blood was coming from his mouth and nose that it was difficult for me to get air into his lungs,” Mr Zimmer said in a victim impact statement.

“I swallowed so much of his blood that to this day I can still taste Mark’s blood in my mouth.”

The case also hit controversy after Justice Williams previously cut out parts of the victim impact statements.

Mark’s mother Ruth has also spoken of the fact her son’s room has been left untouched since his death in November 2008.

“The day Leon Borthwick killed my son was also the day the family we used to be died with Mark,” she has previously said.

8 thoughts on “Leon Borthwick gets 5 years for manslaughter, victims sister locked out of sentencing

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Leon Borthwick gets 5 years for manslaughter, victims sister locked out of sentencing « Aussie Criminals and Crooks -- Topsy.com

  2. This convicted killer should have been charged with murder, not manslaughter. He would have been fully aware that his actions in driving on the wrong side of the road, directly at the deceased would have caused serious injury or death. He was told to stop by his passengers, yet continued on his murderous path. He had the mens rea (guilty mind), and although he had the opportunity to desist with the act, he went ahead with full deliberation. This is pre meditation to me.

    To smirk when sentenced, as reported today, is the ultimate act of lack of remorse. He got off too lightly with this crime. As he has already served in excess of 600 days and his non parole period is 5 years, this 20 year old will be out of jail in 3 years at age 23. I am sure that we will hear of him again, as there is no way he even cares about taking a life.


  3. Not only was the sentence disgusting but to treat a victims family like criminals is totally unacceptable. IF and that is a big IF that they were separated due to safety concerns then the murderers family should have been sent to the gallery and the victims family should have been given the right to sit in the court. The courts are set up for the criminals and the rights of victims are always ignored. It time for this politically correct, do gooder lefty crap to stop and for common sense to prevail and provide victims with the support they deserve.

    Finally the only thing that will wipe smiles off the faces of criminals is to treat them as the dogs they are and give them tougher penalties rather than the weak slap on the wrist dished out now.


  4. How absolutely disgusting. The whole thing. I’m stunned that he got off so lightly and then to treat them like that, it’s like a conspiracy of some sort. You have to wonder what’s really going on there? someone being paid?


  5. WTF just happened yesterday, we were all threatened to be arrested by little pretend coppers with a big TUDES so disrespectful to the Zimmer family. Next year we will be in the same situation….
    arge loving family, but we are a big, built race if you get what i mean, so what chance do we have…. We will be lucky if we get into the Street. What i witnessed yesterday saddened me, knowing the loss to the victims is enough to bear and then have this on their plate as well. KIA KAHA to all. We need to do something so victims don’t suffer any more than need be and the bloody murderers get off scott free… DISGUSTING, DISGUSTING DISGUSTING, AND ANOTHER DISGUSTING…. TO THE MEMBERS OF THE VICTIM SUPPORT GROUPS, MORE STRENGTH TO YOU FOR SUPPORTING ALL VICTIMS OF CRIME.


  6. Could not agree more with you guys, to mow someone down, not give a stuff, and think it is all a bit of a joke, to get 5 measly years, this bloke will get out an angrier, more jealous criminal with a few more tricks up his sleeve, taught to him by the cons in there, on how to treat his next rival a whipping without getting caught!


    • You have to do your reading, Graeme. It was Justice Katharine [sic] Williams, a female, BTW.
      It’s always worth tracking judges to see if they have form, they usually do, but while it’s good to know their biases there’s nothing much you can do without getting the full parliament to agree they’re incompetent and dismiss them. Or wait until they’re 72. Pat O’Shane, here it comes.

      As for Kathy above, he was charged with murder. That was dismissed, in favour of non-specific manslaughter. Williams, J, had to decide how bad/which type. Regarding the rest of your comments, I’d agree, since a test in the negative is revealing: “did he just lose control at that very point and accidentally run into a huddle of people on the side of the road?” – or in fact “did he imagine that driving into a group of people against frantic advice was NOT highly likely to kill someone, and, on balance, did he have a high expectation that Zimmer was NOT amongst them?” No, and no, I’d say. Therefore, intentional murder of Zimmer on the basis that he would have bet his ex-girlfriend’s return on the belief that he expected Zimmer to suffer indistinguishably at the motion of the van. 30 years to life.
      Any news on the appeal mentioned in The Law Report?


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