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18-year Minimum For Rapist, Murderer

A MAN who raped and murdered a girl because she would not sleep with him was yesterday sentenced to at least, 18 years behind bars.
But before jailing Mark John Oswell, Justice Robert Osborn praised prison officers who last week stopped Rachael Lorraine Lawton's family from assaulting the killer.
Ms Lawton's mother screamed, "I f—ing hate you," before throwing herself at Oswell in the Supreme Court dock.
Justice Osborn thanked the two prison officers who held distraught relatives at bay.
"I wish to acknowledge and thank them for their prompt and courageous behaviour in the unfortunate incident," Justice Osborn said. "I will be seeking to improve security arrangements."
Justice Osborn said investigations into contempt of court by the family were under way. By yesterday, anger had turned to grief.
Scores of relatives and friends cried as the judge described Ms Lawton's death, which he said "could scarcely have been more terrifying or sickening".
Oswell kept his head bowed throughout the sentence. He did not look up even when an elderly relative of Ms Lawton pointed his finger and said, "I hope you burn in hell".
Ms Lawton, 19, had a platonic relationship with Oswell, 27, and had been at a Cranbourne hotel with him the night before she died on February 21.
When they returned to his parents' Cranbourne home, Ms Lawton told Oswell she would not have sex with him and asked to be driven to Frankston.
Oswell told police he just snapped.
"It seems this was not the first occasion on which the deceased had rejected your advances at the end of a night, and on that occasion you felt like you were being used for transport and were not going to put up with it," Justice Osborn told him.
Oswell raped Ms Langton and tried to strangle her before taking her to swampland in Cannons Creek - about 10km south of Cranbourne.
There he silt her throat, stabbed her at least 15 times and dumped her body in the water.
Oswell was arrested three days later. He initially denied ivolvement but later pleaded guilty to rape and murder.
Justice Osborn said Oswell acted in a self-centred and brutal fashion.
He jailed Oswell for a maximum of 23 years.

www.news.com.au (16-12-2004)
Jane Metlikovec
 

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Victim's Mother Rushes At Killer

A mother tried to attack her daughter's killer in the Supreme' Court yesterday.
Rachael Lawton's mother jumped from her. seat, yelled "I f—ing hate you", and threw herself at Mark John Oswell as he sat in the dock.
Seconds after court security staff grabbed Ms Lawton's mother, two young men jumped from the public gallery and repeated the attack.
The two tried to climb into the dock and got within centimetres of the accused man.
It took four security and court staff to wrestle them out of the court.
Oswell, 27, pleaded guilty to the rape and stabbing murder of Ms Lawton, 19, on February 21 this year.
The court earlier heard Oswell throttled and raped Ms Lawton at his Cranbourne home after she refused to have sex with him.
He then drove her unconscious body to swampland in Cannons Creek, slit her throat, stabbed her 27 times, and dumped her body in the water.
The court drama unfolded as Oswell's lawyer, Jane Dixon, told the court her client's actions were not motivated by a hatred towards women.
Friends and family of Ms Lawton, and of the accused man, sobbed and consoled each other during the disturbance.
Justice Robert Osborn warned the public to behave and pointed out that the hearing was being video-monitored.
He said he was pointed there had been indication from the prosecution to court staff that such an event might occur.
Ms Dixon said Oswell had snapped because Ms Lawton admitted she had been using him for free drinks and to get driven around in his car.
The pair met on several occasions, but their relationship had not yet developed into a sexual one.
Ms Dixon said Oswell's crimes had escalated after he raped Ms Lawton and he eventually killed her in a futile attempt to avoid police detection.
Justice Osborn remanded Oswell in custody to reappear on December 15 for sentencing.

AAP (7-12-2004)
Chloe Adams

Guilty Plea Over Rape, Murder

A man pleaded guilty today to the murder and rape of a teenager whose body was found in a Melbourne swamp.
Mark John Oswell, 26, of Childers Street, Cranbourne. in Melbourne's south-east, admitted to killing 19-year-old Rachael Lorraine Lawton on February 21.
A summary of evidence handed to Melbourne Magistrates Court said Oswell attacked and raped Ms Lawton at the house he shared with his parents when she refused to have sex with him.
Oswell told police he "snapped", grabbed Ms Lawton around the throat and "squeezed like crazy" until she passed ouL
After the rape, he drove her to nearby Cannons Creek, where he slit her throat and stabbed her repeatedly with an 8cm folding knife when she tried to escape.
He told police he dragged her body 50m and pushed it towards mangroves in a nearby swamp.
Her body was found the next morning.
Magistrate Isaac Beder ordered Oswell face the Victorian Supreme Court on November 9 on one count each of murder and rape.

The Australian (13-9-2004)

Help Needed To Trace Last steps

Homicide detectives are retracing the last movements of murder victim Rachael Lawton in an effort to close in on the person or persons responsible for her vicious, death.
The 19-year-old's body was found in a mangrove swamp at Cannon's Creek, near Cranbourne in Melbourne's southeast, early on Saturday morning.
It is believed the young woman, who lived in Cranbourne, was seen in the area about 10.30pm on Friday.
She was found with her throat slashed about 7.30am.
Her body was lying about 30m from a jetty that leads to a small car park.
Early indications suggested the body had been there a short time.
Police have released this photograph of Ms Lawton in the hope it will encourage anyone with knowledge of her last movements or her brutal killing to contact them.
"We are still at the early stages of our inquiry," Acting Det-Insp Clive Rust said yesterday.
"We are endeavouring to identity her movements and whereabouts prior to the murder."
Det-Insp Rust said Investigators had spoken to Ms Lawton's relatives and the last people known to have had contact with her.
"We are building up a picture and profile of what she was doing before she was killed," he said.
The area where Ms Lawton was found is sometimes used by young people as a meeting place.
"Other than that, it is a pretty lonely area down there," Det-Insp Rust said.
The Herald Sun believes it managed to contact a relative of Ms Lawton yesterday who said he was unable to talk about the victim.
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers.

AAP (24-2-2004)
Paul Anderson

Swamp Body Was Slashed

A young woman has been brutally murdered and her body dumped in a swamp in Melbourne's southeast.
The victim, in her late teens or early 20s, had her throat slashed.
Walkers made the grisly discovery in mangroves near a Jetty at Cannons Creek, near Cranbourne, about 7.30am yesterday.
The walkers saw blood on the ground and a discarded mobile phone before finding the bloodied body.
A couple who lived nearby told police they heard frantic screams in the early hours of the morning but thought it was an animal being attacked.
Other neighbours said they did not hear any suspicious noises.
Last night Det. Acting Sen-Sgt Stephen Mclntyre, of the homicide squad, said police had yet to Identity the woman and had not found a murder weapon.
Police cordoned off the area around the jetty and forensic officers worked at the scene throughout the day.
Large blood stains were clearly visible on the Jetty.
Police searched a rubbish bin near where the body was found and seized a pornographic magazine, while State Emergency Service personnel conducted a line search of nearby scrub.
Police also doorknocked nearby houses, where shocked residents were still coming to terms with the violent crime.
An autopsy was being conducted last night and police said they were still to determine if the woman had been killed at the site.
"We are still trying to determine whether noises heard during the evening were related to the incident," Snr-Sgt Mclntyre said.
"It appears that the deceased has suffered some form of assault. At this stage we are still trying to determine cause of death."
A local woman said one neighbouring couple had heard frantic screeches the night before.
"They thought it was a bird getting killed y a fox," she said.
Residents described the sleepy hideaway as a quiet spot, but said the Jetty had recently become a popular destination for hoons on weekends.

AAP (22-2-2004)
Kelvin Healey

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