Family of crossbow murderer to ask to lift gag order

The family of a teenager convicted of murdering a father and daughter with a crossbow in a moving move to reunite with his partner and his daughter says it will ask to lift a…

Family of crossbow murderer to ask to lift gag order

The family of a teenager convicted of murdering a father and daughter with a crossbow in a moving move to reunite with his partner and his daughter says it will ask to lift a suppression order on his name.

Crown lawyers sought an extension of their application for an order to prevent the public from naming Nathaniel McLellan, who was 18 in October 2018 when he stabbed to death father and daughter Samuel and Sophia McMahon, 17 and 14, at a home in Middletown, Nelson, south-east Queensland.

Belinda McLellan, Nathaniel’s sister, said their family wanted to keep her brother’s name out of the public domain and in the media, and would take their case to the Queensland supreme court after several media organisations, including the Guardian, objected to a public naming.

“We didn’t realise just how tough this could be,” she said. “We are trying to understand this whole concept of open justice and ultimately what we find out will be our decision.”

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McLellan, who had pleaded not guilty, pleaded guilty to murder and will be sentenced next month.

Describing the family’s anguish, Belinda McLellan said it was distressing to see so many journalists at court but added their priority was “unlocking as much information about this as we can”.

McLellan stabbed his mother and brothers at a home in Nelson in a violent public move in August 2018 to get access to his mother’s smartphone and get back in touch with his partner, Kate.

His mother was bitten on the hand in the attack and was treated in hospital, but no matter the treatment, McLellan said his father was a “very jealous” man and he wasn’t seeing Kate because of his jealousy.

In a detailed explanation, prosecutor Shane Breakenridge told the court McLellan had murdered Samuel McMahon and his daughter Sophia McMahon in a crossbow attack over a period of three hours, driven to a national park and killed two more people.

After his arrest, McLellan told a psychiatric nurse he did not have any remorse and would kill again.

In giving a six-hour closing address, defence barrister Liam de Souza said any comment on the case was likely to prejudice the sentence, with McLellan so clearly remorseful.

The court had to take into account its location, the strong emotions around the case and the fact it involved a young man under tremendous societal pressure, de Souza said.

The judgement sought to “manage the circumstances which involve a finding of guilt, the memory of the victim, the court and the community while not opening Pandora’s box,” he said.

It was also relevant to consider the impact of these murders on the community, de Souza said.

John McGuire QC said an order was appropriate, saying not identifying McLellan would mean he would become even less accessible and gave rise to security concerns.

He told the court the circumstances of the case were particularly unique with the man at the centre of it being reported as a young boy.

Justice Gary Banks reserved his decision.

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