The family of murdered Brisbane mother Allison Baden-Clay say she fought for her life, and in doing so made sure her cheating husband paid for ending it.
It was Allison Baden-Clay’s strength as she was being killed that won her justice in the end.
In her final moments, the Brisbane mother-of-three lashed out at her husband, clawing at his cheek as he snuffed out her life.
More than two years on from her violent death, that final act has brought her justice.
Former real estate agent Gerard Baden-Clay was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday, meaning he’ll spend a minimum of 15 years behind bars for killing the mother of his children.
The damning fingernail scratches on his right cheek on April 20, 2012 – the day he reported his wife missing – were enough to persuade the Brisbane Supreme Court jury he was guilty of murder.
Allison’s grieving family paid tribute to her final act during emotional victim impact statements that spoke of the former beauty queen’s resilience.
“One thing we have seen from this trial was that Allison was strong and she fought to the death,” said her sister Vanessa Fowler as she stared down Baden-Clay.
“Even when taking her last breath she left her mark to ensure you paid for your evil ways.”
Allison’s parents have been left not only to mourn their daughter, but also to raise their three grief-stricken granddaughters and answer all the questions they have about what happened to their mother.
“They miss her terribly and cry for her at night,” Allison’s mother Priscilla Dickie said of the girls, aged seven, 10 and 13.
“They have been condemned to a life sentence without the love and companionship only a mother can give.”
The calm demeanour Baden-Clay had maintained during his trial crumbled on Tuesday, after a jury unanimously found he’d done everything he so vehemently denied.
Wearing a dark suit and a tie of yellow – his wife’s favourite colour – he silently wept and trembled in the dock as those who had taken him into their lives spoke of the immense pain he had caused.
At times he also shook his head, as if in disagreement.
“We accepted you into our family and you abused our trust with your lies and deceits,” Allison’s father, Geoff Dickie, said as he stared down his son-in-law from across the court room.
“You asked me for my daughter’s hand in marriage and I consented and gave you permission. But I didn’t give you permission to betray her.”
After a trial of more than six weeks, the jury accepted Baden-Clay murdered his wife in a violent struggle in April 2012.
The trial heard he was under significant personal and financial pressure and had promised his mistress Toni McHugh he’d be separated by July 1 that year.
In sentencing, Justice John Byrne said it looked likely Baden-Clay had smothered his wife in an attack that wasn’t premeditated, but was violent.
After the “undignified” dumping of his wife’s body on a muddy creek bank, Baden-Clay tried to fake shaving cuts to cover up his wife’s claw marks and he went on to insinuate his wife might have taken her own life, the judge said.
“Your shameful conduct after murdering Allison bespeaks a profound absence of remorse,” Justice Byrne told him.
“You are given to lies and other deception, so much so that whatever you may say on any application for parole 15 years or more hence, will need to be assessed with considerable scepticism.”
Baden-Clay’s lawyer said it wasn’t an appropriate time to comment on whether his client would appeal.
Allison’s family say their priority is on the three young girls who still struggle every day with their mother’s absence.
“Their resilience to this tragedy is a result of Allison’s guidance and love,” Mrs Dickie told the court.
She said Allison did not leave her girls that night more than two years ago, and simply walk off into the night to fall or jump from a bridge as Baden-Clay’s defence team suggested.
She was murdered. By the man who promised to love her forever.