THE murder trial is over, the verdict is in but the tragedy surrounding the death of Phillip Island mother of three, Samantha Fraser, 38, at the hands of her estranged husband Adrian Basham, goes on.
The jury has found Mr Basham, 45, guilty on Thursday, April 21, 2022, of murdering Ms Fraser, by hanging in the setting of multiple blunt force injuries, .
They handed down their verdict just two days after Justice Taylor completed her directions in the Supreme Court of Victoria, on Day 20 of the trial last Tuesday, April 19.
Justice Taylor must now decide on an appropriate penalty.
On the final day of the trial, on the Tuesday after Easter, Justice Taylor took most of the day to review the evidence for the jury and provide her directions on how to deal with that evidence. She also instructed them on how to make their decision in the case.
Justice Taylor said there were four elements to a verdict of murder: (1.) Did he cause her death? (2.) Was the act conscious, voluntary and deliberate? (3.) Did he intend to kill Samantha Fraser or cause her very serious injury? (4.) Was there lawful justification or excuse?
Her Honour advised the jury that if they were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Basham caused the victim’s death, they should have no issue with the other three conditions, that his acts were conscious, voluntary and deliberate, that if they found Mr Basham had hanged Ms Fraser, that he intended to kill her or cause her very serious injury and that there was no excuse or justification such as self-defence.
The decision in the trial comes after 20 sitting days for the court, across five weeks, during which the jury heard 79 witness accounts and viewed 58 exhibits including DNA evidence from the blood-spattered garage at 19 Seagrove Way Cowes, chilling photos and videos of the crime scene.
Many of those who appeared to give evidence in the trial are Phillip Island locals, family and friends of deceased, her colleagues and also local police officers, health professionals and others who provided Ms Fraser with care and support during her acrimonious break-up with her husband of 10 years.
In her closing remarks in the case last week, Crown Prosecutor Dr Nanette Rogers SC said that on the evidence the jury had no alternative but to find the accused man, Adrian Basham, guilty of the “cold and brutal murder” of his estranged wife, Samantha Fraser.
Ms Rogers had reprised the extent of Ms Fraser’s injuries for the court, detailing how the scale of the bruising above both the left and right eyes extended back beyond the hairline, as far as the right ear.
Ms Rogers said the extent of the blunt-force trauma inflicted by Mr Basham on Ms Fraser, included evidence of a probable early axonal injury to the brain.
It was on the evidence of forensic pathologist Dr Linda Iles that such an injury, more typical in road accidents, was caused by rotational force and velocity applied to Ms Fraser’s head while she was still alive.
Ms Rogers said there was evidence of multiple blunt force injures to Samantha Fraser’s face, neck, head, legs, hands, arms and in that context, it was simply “absurd” to suggest that Ms Fraser got up, after suffering 41 injuries, and hanged herself.
She said that Mr Basham had manipulated the crime scene to make it appear as if Ms Fraser had taken her own life.
Ms Fraser was set upon by Mr Basham in the garage of the home the couple previously shared together, between 11.22am and 12.04pm on the morning of Monday, July 23, 2018 after dropping her children off at the local primary school and enjoying a coffee with friends at a cafe in Cowes, ahead of returning home.
The court heard that Mr Basham lay in wait for his estranged wife for two and half hours before attacking her on her arrival home and ultimately murdering her by hanging her from the garage door tracks attached to the roof of the garage. It was the evidence of forensic pathologists that Ms Fraser was still alive at the time.
Her body was found by police after being called to make a welfare check when Ms Fraser failed to arrive to pick up her children after school.
The court did not hear from Mr Basham throughout the five-week trial either as a witness in his own defence or via a statement to police.
The plea hearing, prior to sentencing, will be heard on September 19. Mr Basham has been in custody since he was charged with his wife’s murder on August 2, 2018.