BT: Leeding family relieved by guilty verdicts
"We've got the bastards."
That was how one member of Gold Coast detective Damian Leeding's family described their relief after a jury found two people guilty of his murder.
A Supreme Court jury in Brisbane took under two hours to decide on Monday that Phillip Graeme Abell, 41, and Donna Lee McAvoy, 39, were guilty over the shooting death of Senior Constable Leeding.
Sen Const Leeding, 35, was blasted in the face with a shotgun after he was called to an armed robbery at the Pacific Pines Tavern on May 29, 2011.
He died three days later in hospital.
His family cried, applauded and some shouted "yes" when the guilty verdicts were read out.
Abell refused to stand when Justice Douglas James asked him to, sparking gasps from Sen Const Leeding's family.
He and McAvoy will be sentenced on Friday.
Outside court, the detective's father-in-law, Garry O'Brien, told reporters it has been a hellish two years.
He recalled a time when he and Damian were watching the news about armed robberies on the Gold Coast.
"I said to Damo 'when is this going to stop?'," Mr O'Brien said.
"And he said 'we'll get the bastards'. Well, we've got the bastards."
Flanked by family, including the detective's teary widow Sonya, he said the family finally feel they can say "Damo rest in peace".
"Had the decision been different, it would certainly make a lot of police officers have a second think about how they do their business and take away a lot of public confidence in the police service," Mr O'Brien said.
Sen Const Leeding's mother, Julie Waters, also said the family was relieved.
"Justice has been finally served," she read from a prepared statement.
"While nothing can bring Damian back, we are thankful the offenders have been held responsible for his death."
Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Wilson and Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers also both said they were pleased with the verdict and praised the justice system.
Abell and McAvoy had pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to armed robbery and deprivation of liberty.
Co-accused Benjamin Ernest Power, 39, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the start of the 11-day trial.
His plea was subject to a non-publication order for the rest of the trial to avoid prejudicing the jury.