The mother of murdered Queensland woman Shandee Blackburn has faced her daughter’s accused killer for the first time in a courtroom.
When Queensland mother Vicki Blackburn saw her daughter’s accused killer sitting in the dock she felt sick.
Shandee Blackburn was 23 years old when she was stabbed to death while walking home from work in the city of Mackay on February 9, 2013.
She was stabbed multiple times before her attacker stole some of her belongings and left her to die.
Locals found her lying in the street covered in blood and called paramedics but she couldn’t be saved.
Police couldn’t find a murder weapon and the hunt for her attacker would prove to be drawn out and intense, even though they already had their eye on someone.
Ten days after she died and a day after her funeral, police announced that someone had seen a man running to and from the area where Shandee was killed.
But then there was nothing more for six months until July 30 when an anonymous caller rang Crime Stoppers with new information.
Police wanted to speak with them, and appealed for the caller to make contact again.
But another six months passed before detectives mentioned the Blackburn case.
Two pictures of a white ute police believed to be connected with the murder were released on February 2 this year.
A month later, police offered a reward of $250,000 for any information leading to a conviction of Shandee’s killer.
The hefty reward made it seem as though investigators were getting desperate but behind the scenes, they were closing in on a suspect.
The state’s powerful Crime and Corruption Commission had been questioning people about the case in a series of coercive hearings.
Coercive hearings give the commission power to compel witnesses to appear and to override the right to silence and the privilege against self-incrimination.
One of those hearings is believed to have uncovered the key to the case.
Then on Tuesday, police finally arrested 32-year-old John Peros in Brisbane.
He was charged with Shandee Blackburn’s murder and robbery.
Peros appeared briefly in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday.
Vicki Blackburn sat in the middle row of the public gallery wearing a fluoro green jacket, Shandee’s favourite colour.
She looked Peros in the eye.
Even though Vicki had waited 17 months for that moment, she said it was bittersweet.
“I just felt sick, just felt sick,” she later told reporters.
“I don’t think anything to do with this is going to be easy, we’re aware of that, but it’s something we need to do for Shandee, we’ll be here for Shandee.”
Peros’s lawyer Andrew Bale says his client intends to contest the charges.
The case is due for a mention in the Mackay Magistrates Court on October 9.