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Shandee Blackburn coronial inquest says she couldn’t call for help because of sliced larynx

A woman who was stabbed more than 20 times and left to die in a pool of blood might have been unable to call for help because of a sliced larynx.

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Shandee Blackburn, 23, was walking home from work at Harrup Country Club when she was attacked on a Mackay road, in north Queensland, on February 9, 2013.

She was found alive with significant injuries but could not be revived, and her murder has gone unsolved for six years. 

A coronial inquest into her death was launched on Monday and professor David Williams – who carried out the autopsy on Ms Blackburn – gave evidence by phone.

He said the attack on the 23-year-old had been ‘frenzied’ and fast. 

Taxi driver Jasprent Pandher, who saw two people fighting near where she died, also gave evidence.

He said he had seen a tall man running away across a park.

‘It’s like a shadow running … for me … it’s like his hands are holding something,’ he told the first day of the inquest in the north Queensland city.

A murder weapon has never been found, nor the white handbag Ms Blackburn was thought to be carrying before her death.

Ms Blackburn’s boyfriend in the months before her death, Arron Macklin, was the first witness on Monday, saying she had not appeared to be scared by anything at the time.

It followed a dramatic start to the inquest with barrister Craig Eberhardt, for John Peros – who was acquitted of Ms Blackburn’s murder in a 2017 trial – asking for police to be in court when witness William Daniel gives evidence.

Mr Eberhardt said he and a solicitor were inspecting the site where Ms Blackburn had been stabbed on a Sunday night, when a car pulled up and someone called out a threat.

‘Oi, what are you doing back in Mackay? I’m going to get you,’ Mr Eberhardt said they were told.

‘(They) then made a motion like a machine gun, firing motion towards us,’ Mr Eberhardt said. 

Coroner David O’Connell, assisted by John Aberdeen, will investigate over two weeks the circumstances surrounding Ms Blackburn’s death and whether electronic surveillance should be increased in high-risk areas.

Mr O’Connell will look at whether pubs and clubs should offer rides home for staff who do not have safe transport by extending courtesy bus services.

Shandee’s mother Vicky and sister Sharna fronted cameras outside of Mackay Magistrates Court on Monday saying they hope the inquest will bring them ‘peace of mind.’

‘We really want to know what happened that night,’ Ms Blackburn told Today.

‘Once we know that we can see if something can be put in place to prevent things like this happening again, because the last thing anybody wants is for another family to lose their child in these sort of circumstances.’

The hearing continues.

 

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