A man who was murdered by his cellmate at a NSW correctional centre was cheeky and generous to a fault, and was eagerly making plans for his release from custody, a court has been told.
Geoffrey Fardell, 52, was strangled by Richard Jason Reay, 47, who had a tendency for unprovoked violence, while they were locked in overnight at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre in Kempsey on June 10, 2019.
On the morning of June 11, a sweeper was delivering milk to the cells when Reay told him “my celly is dead”. Reay told police he woke to find Mr Fardell dead on the floor and only touched him to feel for a pulse.
He later claimed he strangled Mr Fardell with a makeshift clothesline ripped from his bunk, because Mr Fardell leapt on him in the middle of the night and attacked him following a confrontation about the volume of the TV.
After a judge-alone trial, Justice Robert Allan Hulme rejected this claim and found Reay guilty of murder, describing his account as “entirely implausible”.
On Tuesday, Mr Fardell’s mother Sandra Deveson read out a victim impact statement to the Supreme Court in Sydney while his sister, watching from a video link, sobbed.
Ms Deveson said when her phone rang that day, she “instantly, happily” thought it was her son calling her from custody, only to be told he had been killed.
“I released the phone out of my hand, throwing it on the chair. I screamed out and kept repeating over and over, ‘I just want to talk to you’, then after a while kept repeating again ‘I love you Geoffrey’,” she said.
“After finding out Geoff had been strangled, my innermost feelings and thoughts were of the frightening terror he must have felt in his last moments of life. That is now my ongoing nightmare, knowing he suffered and seeing him in my mind lying on the cold cell floor all alone.”