Armed robbery duo sentenced over murder of police officer

THE couple whose bungled robbery led to the death of a Gold Coast detective have been jailed, with one sentenced to a mandatory life in prison.

Donna Lee McAvoy and Benjamin Ernest Power, who each played a part in the burglary of a hotel and the killing of Senior Constable Damian Leeding in 2011, have been sentenced.

McAvoy earned life in prison with no possibility of parole for 12 years.

The senior constable's death at the hands of a shotgun wielding robber shocked the state.

The 35-year-old Gold Coast police officer was attempting to intervene while gunman Phillip Graeme Abell, 41, was fleeing the Pacific Pines Tavern with stolen cash.

Abell, and accomplice McAvoy, 40, were found guilty of murdering the father of three last September.

McAvoy may not have pulled the trigger, but she was heavily involved in the robbery and its preparation - helping tie up hotel customers with zip ties.

For her role in the heist, the death of a police officer and a previous raid on the Tallai Country Club, McAvoy will be locked up until at least May 30, 2023 - 12 years after she was first taken into custody.

Power, 39, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role as lookout and getaway driver. He also pleaded guilty to charges of armed robbery and deprivation of liberty.

Power could be out as early as July 2018, forced to serve 80% of a nine-year sentence minus time served.

Abell was sentenced in October last year to life imprisonment with no parole for at least 20 years.

The court heard from the slain detective's mother Julie Waters, who described the three involved as being "unable to be rehabilitated".

She told of her inability to work, her nightmares and the friends she has lost as she succumbed to the grief caused by her son's death.

Senior Constable Leeding's sister Hayley Sinton said her brother would be remembered as a hero.

She vowed to never again mention the names of his killers .

Power and McAvoy, who stood apart in the dock for the length of the sentencing on Friday, embraced in the moments before being led from the court.

Outside, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Proctor of Coomera CIB on the Gold Coast - a friend and colleague of Mr Leeding - said the scars left by Damian's murder on his family; colleagues and the community will never fully heal.

Since his death, the Gold Coast council has created the Damian Leading Memorial Park in his honour.





On Friday, slain Gold Coast detective Damian Leeding's mother Julie Waters and sister Hayley Sinton told how they were hurt by the actions of these two criminals.

JULIE (mother)

I will never hear his joy, saying how proud he was of his family. I now have to accept that mine and my family's life changed forever and will never be the same again. All three of you are of horrible character having shown no remorse.

HAYLEY (sister)

My brother will be remembered. A household name they will call a hero.I will never speak your name again.In September…I will be sitting on a beach, sipping cocktails, enjoying the sunshine.Most of all, I'll watch my children play in the water. They will be laughing. They will be smiling.You on the other hand will be in jail. I hope it's as miserable and lonely as that sounds.

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