A FORMER short-order cook has been given a life sentence with a 20-year-minimum for the murder of East Fremantle man Reuben Stack on May 21 last year.
Shannon John Davies (39) appeared in the Supreme Court on Wednesday via video-link from Hakea prison to hear Justice Bruno Fiannaca condemn him for the murder, which shocked the East Fremantle community because of the victim’s well-connected family and snippets of detail hinting at a brutal killing.
The court heard Mr Stack had a “thriving” drug dealing business and Davies was an occasional client who’d previously been to the home Mr Stack shared with his father.
Around 7am on the day of the murder, Davies staked out the house waiting for Mr Stack’s father to leave so he could break in to steal cannabis. He searched the upper floor believing no one was home, but as he moved downstairs was surprised by Mr Stack emerging from his bedroom.
After being confronted, Davies lashed out with a hammer he’d brought to break into the house, striking Mr Stack on the right eye and knocking him to the ground.
Mr Stack managed to get up, groaning, but was felled by another blow and the deadly attack continued while he was on the ground.
An autopsy found he was hit around the head at least 21 times; his skull was broken, and he had widespread contusions, lacerations, and haemorrhaging.
Immediately after the murder, Davies continued his search and took five kilos of cannabis which was stored in four backpacks and was worth $60,000.
He returned home to Orelia, burnt his bloodied clothes, and put the charred remains in the bin.
Lack of remorse
Later that day Davies returned to Moss Street to retrieve the butt of a cigarette he’d smoked while staking out the house.
He then sold an ounce of the stolen dope to a female customer who paid $350, and a quarter ounce to a male customer.
Mr Stack’s body was discovered by his brother Cameron, who called neighbours for help at around 3pm and was found kneeling on the ground outside grasping at the soil.
Davies, who’d burgled the house nine months earlier and stolen more cannabis, a jar of coins and a laptop, was arrested on June 4 last year and admitted his guilt five days later.
He’d been trying to repeat the easy break-in, which Justice Fiannaca called a betrayal of trust.
State prosecutor, David Davidson, said Davies behaviour after the murder showed a lack of remorse.
“On the same day he’s murdered someone, he’s gone into drug dealing,” Mr Davidson told the Supreme Court on Monday.
Justice Fiannaca described the attack as “brutal and merciless”, and told Davies that “your conduct afterward showed a callous disregard for the life you had taken”.
“The appearance of his room suggests you ransacked his room while he lay dying on the ground.”
“Mr Stack may have been a drug dealer, like you, but he was also someone who had worked in various forms of employment and was loved by his family,” Justice Fiannaca said before passing sentence.
Davies admitted to regular methamphetamine use, including a dose the night before, but Justice Fiannaca determined he was not intoxicated at the time of the crime.
Defence lawyer Karen Farley claimed Davies owed money for drugs and fines, and that his drug use and alienation from society could be traced back to an abusive step-father in his youth.
“Mr Davies’ early years were not without difficulties,” Ms Farley said.
“Take away the drugs, your honour, and he may not even be here.”
But Justice Fiannaca dismissed Davies’ claim he’d accidentally hit Mr Stack with the hammer the first time, and only bludgeoned him to “put him out of his misery”.
“Any suggestion that you were being merciful is inconsistent in my view,” Justice Fiannaca said, saying he’d acted to try and avoid being identified.
“You went about offending in a calculated way,” Justice Fiannaca said.
He said the evidence suggested the attack was unprovoked.
“He did not assault you. You were the aggressor,” Justice Fiannaca said.
“I cannot say you would not be a risk to the community when you are released.”
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM