Jade Bayliss was just 13 when she was killed.
Jade Bayliss was just 13 when she was killed.

Aussie mum says NZ schoolgirl killer 'evil'

THE mother of an Australian teenager killed by the man convicted of murdering Christchurch schoolgirl Jade Bayliss has described him as "evil".

Eighteen years ago Perth woman Marriya Vidot lost her son Phillip, 14, in a brutal attack at the hands of Jeremy 'Dingo' McLaughlin, the man found guilty yesterday of killing 13-year-old Jade.

A jury of seven women and five men in the High Court at Christchurch took just two hours to find McLaughlin guilty of murdering his ex-partner's daughter on November 10, 2011.

The 35-year-old had denied strangling the schoolgirl with a piece of cord, stuffing socks in her mouth, dousing her house in petrol and setting it ablaze.

The jury weren't allowed to know McLaughlin's criminal history. But it can now be reported that he served a prison sentence in Australia for killing Phillip Vidot in Perth in 1995.

Mclaughlin bashed the boy with a cricket bat, while a mate ran him over in a car.

A 17-year-old friend of Phillip's who was with him at the time survived the attack after eight days in a coma.

McLaughlin was originally charged with murder, but in 1997 a jury acquitted him and co-accused Craig Brian Wood and instead found them guilty of manslaughter, sparking national outrage.

McLaughlin, then 19, was sentenced to 12 years in jail but after just four years, was deported back to his native New Zealand in 2001.

On his arrival police were advised of the manslaughter conviction, but he was not subject to any release conditions or monitoring because the crime occurred in another jurisdiction.

Ms Vidot was shocked to learn in 2011, on the 16th anniversary of her son's death, that McLaughlin was accused of killing another teen.

"But I'm not surprised. He and others showed no remorse for what they had done to Phillip and Tyron," she told The West Australian newspaper at the time.

"He's evil. It brings up a lot of bad memories."

When the jury reached their verdict of guilty at the High Court in Christchurch today, the dead girl's mum, Tina Bayliss broke down in tears.

Justice Graham Panckhurst who oversaw the eight days of evidence, told the jury: "For what it's worth, I agree entirely with your verdict."

Outside court, Mrs Bayliss was supported by friends and family as she paid tribute to her "bright, beautiful, bubbly girl".

"On behalf of my family, I would like to say that we are all incredibly relieved that the trial is over, and that the jury has found Jeremy McLaughlin guilty for murder," she said.

"Jade is a great loss to our family and unfortunately this verdict will not change the fact she is no longer with us. This is something we have been trying to come to terms with for the past 17 months and it is extremely difficult to convey how this has affected us.

"Jade was a bright, beautiful, bubbly girl who was kind and loving and this is how we will remember her.

"We all love her very much and we will miss her every day."

Her dad Gary said in a statement that the family was "extremely relieved" the trial was over and the jury had found McLaughlin guilty.

"We hope the sentence that is handed down to him reflects the seriousness of his crime," he said.

McLaughlin had admitted the burglary and arson charges at the start of his trial but claimed he never saw Jade on the day she died.

The jury, however, concluded that he must have killed her, probably after she disturbed him burgling the family home.

Once he'd killed her and pawned off stolen TVs and game consoles for overdue rent payments, he returned to torch the Barrington St property, the Crown said.

Pathologist Dr Katherine White concluded that Jade died of strangulation before the fire broke out.

DNA found under the dead girl's fingernails matched McLaughlin's profile.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae, who headed the murder investigation, became emotional when speaking about the case after the guilty verdict.

"The shock of this case is not just that someone's been killed, not just that a wee girl has been killed, but that fact she was killed in her own home, where we all expect our kids to be safe," he said, fighting back tears.

- With The West Australian


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