Man who strangled adult shop worker to be out in two years

THE man who strangled a female Warwick adult store attendant with a piece of cord had previously spent 16 years in jail for the strangling death of a teenage prostitute, Toowoomba Supreme Court heard yesterday.

John Joseph Beltrame, 48, had served the full 16-year jail term for the manslaughter of the 17-year-old prostitute in New South Wales and had moved to the Darling Downs not long after his release in 2009.

More recently Beltrame had settled in Warwick where he regularly attended the adult shop on Palmerin Street.

Just before the store's closing on August 31 last year, he had entered the store where the victim, 48, was working alone, Crown prosecutor Sarah Farnden told the court.

Looking through adult DVDs, he dropped a piece of black cord from his pocket, telling the woman "the silly things you have in your pocket, I've been working on my car all day".

Told the store was closing, he selected a DVD and followed the woman to the counter. She suddenly felt a cord around her neck and being choked, Ms Farnden said.

CCTV footage of the 25-minute struggle that ensued was screened to the court and clearly showed the woman with hands up to her neck desperately struggling with the solidly built Beltrame.

She later told police she believed that she would be dead if she didn't get to the front door. Still struggling with Beltrame, she made it to the door where four young men were walking by and saw the struggle.

Ms Farnden said one young man yelled "Hey, what are you doing?" prompting Beltrame to release his grip.

He had then brushed past the group, saying: "She was trying to rob me".

The young men took note of where he had gone and another witness told police he had seen Beltrame walk into the Queens Park toilet block.

Arrested when he walked out of the toilet, Beltrame initially told police he couldn't remember the incident but later said he had some recall.

Asked by police what his motivation had been, Beltrame had replied that he thought it was robbery.

Asked if the motivation was rape, he replied "I don't do rape".

His barrister Robbie Davies said his client pleaded guilty to "disabling to commit an indictable offence" on the grounds it was a robbery.

He had been due to face trial on a charge of attempted murder yesterday but the Crown accepted his plea to the alternative charge, thereby saving the complainant woman the angst of having to relive the ordeal in court.

Justice Debra Mullins noted by the woman's victim impact statement the incident had a significant impact on her life and that of her family.

To learn that her attacker had served 16 years for the manslaughter of a woman he had strangled would have only added to her angst, she said.

Declaring the 440 days Beltrame had spent in pre-sentence custody as time served under the penalty, Justice Mullins sentenced him to six years and six months jail but ordered he be eligible to apply for release on parole as of April 30, 2015.


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