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STATE OF TASMANIA v MARCO DANIEL RUSTERHOLZ

COMMENTS ON PASSING SENTENCE

1 MAY 2015
PEARCE J

Marco Daniel Rusterholz was found guilty by a jury of the murders of Angela Hallam and Joshua
Newman. He is convicted on both counts and he will pay the victims of crime compensation levies of
$100 forthwith.
Between 9.30 and about 10.30 pm on 15 August 2012 the defendant went to Miss Hallam's unit in
Ravenswood. He entered, most likely because she let him in. Inside the unit he killed her with a
sharp instrument, probably a heavy knife, by stabbing her once in the back and then inflicting deep
incised wounds to both sides of her neck. Miss Hallam's boyfriend, Joshua Newman, was also at the
unit. He was also killed by the defendant who inflicted deep incised wounds to his neck. Miss Hallam
was known to the defendant. Their association arose from a personal relationship and also because
she, for a time, was one of a group of persons who sold illicit drugs for him. There are a number of
probable motives for her murder which may have operated individually or in combination. I am
satisfied that the crime was at least in part, motivated by the defendant's wish to impress another
woman with whom he was in a relationship at the time, because he took some of Miss Hallam's hair to
her as a trophy. It is likely that the motivation for the crime was added to by the desire for
retribution for some sort of perceived deception or dishonesty in the trafficking of drugs.
These murders are most serious of examples of the crime. The murder of Miss Hallam was a premeditated and cold blooded execution. I am not satisfied that the murder of Mr Newman was
planned. He happened to be present and was intentionally killed in a brutal and callous fashion. The
death of Mr Newman is likely to have been terrifying for him as he suffered grievous defensive
wounds to his hands and forearms as he unsuccessfully tried to escape. Neither murder is
accompanied by any mitigating circumstance. They cannot be attributed to rage or sudden impulse or
other human frailty. The crimes have had a terrible and permanent impact on others, especially on
the young children each of the victims had as well as their parents and siblings.
The defendant shows no remorse. After the crimes he doused the bodies with petrol and set fire to
them, thereby adding to the gross indignity to which the victims were subjected. Having killed Miss
Hallam the defendant sent a text message to her as a ruse, set about destroying possible evidence in
an effort to hide his crimes and boasted to others of what he had done. During his trial he sought to
attribute blame to others. He is not entitled to the mitigation a plea of guilty may have attracted.
The defendant is now 51. He was 48 when the crimes were committed. He has prior convictions for
drug and firearm offences. He has no convictions for physical violence but these crimes are so grave
that this consideration carries limited weight. He is married and has eight children aged between 3
and 15. He has experienced some physical and other difficulties in prison but that should not impact
on the otherwise appropriate sentence. He will receive the care he requires.
I impose one sentence. A very lengthy term of imprisonment is required. A person capable of such
murders as these presents a serious risk to society. I do not intend to impose a life sentence, but the
appropriate head sentence is likely to exceed his life expectancy. I take account of his age when he
will become eligible to apply for parole.
Marco Daniel Rusterholz, you are sentenced to imprisonment for 45 years from 25 September 2012,
the date you were taken into custody. I order that you not be eligible for parole until you have served
25 years of that term, which is the minimum term which, in my view, the interests of justice require
that you serve.