Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, of Tweed Heads has been found guilty of murder over the stabbing death of his former partner. Picture: Liana Boss
Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, of Tweed Heads has been found guilty of murder over the stabbing death of his former partner. Picture: Liana Boss

Murder sentence could lead to ‘offender dying in jail’

A MAN who stabbed his former partner to death in a frenzied attack inside a Tweed Heads apartment will spend at least 17 years behind bars, a court has heard.

Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, was convicted earlier this year at a judge alone trial of murdering his former long-time partner Marie Van Beers in a stabbing attack in the kitchen of the flat the pair shared on Brett St, Tweed Heads, on November 12, 2018.

The killing took place on the same day that Ms Van Beers was granted an AVO against Ryan following threats against her and the day before she was due to leave him for good.

On Thursday, Justice Richard Button sentenced Ryan to 23 years in jail with a non-parole period of 17 years for what he called an "extremely grave" example of murder.

"It could well lead to the offender dying in jail," Justice Button told the court.

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Button pointed to the primary motivation for the murder as Ryan's anger and jealousy at his former partner of decades "taking the first steps into a new life" by pursuing a romantic relationship with a man on the mid-north coast.

The court heard that Ryan murdered Ms Van Beers in a frenzy in the unit kitchen using two knives and at one point held a knife to her throat, forcing her to call her sister.

It heard Ryan stabbed the victim multiple times with many wounds inflicted to her back.

"Words were replaced by murderous actions," Justice Button said.

"She was entitled to feel safe in her own home."

The court heard Ryan was a chronic alcoholic and prescription drug abuser who had worked a number of unskilled jobs until 25 years' ago when he suffered a work accident.

Since that time, it heard his life had become "degraded" including frequent hospitilations, an admission to a psychiatric hospital and a suicide attempt.

The court heard that while Ryan drank nine mid-strength beers at a nearby club before carrying out the "savage" attack on Ms Van Beers, intoxication "had no role to play" in the murder.

It also heard that following the killing Ryan made "exculpatory claims", including that he tried the drug ice for the first time shortly before the attack, which Justice Button characterised as "alcoholic confabulation".

Justice Button also noted the impact on members of Ms Van Beers' family, who the court heard continued to struggle with challenges caused by the "terrible day" of the murder.

With time served, Ryan will be eligible for parole on November 11, 2035.