Candace Martin during a previous court appearance.
Candace Martin during a previous court appearance. Marc Stapelberg

'He murdered his father ... and I lied for him'

CANDACE Martin, wife of the man who slaughtered his itinerant father with a samurai sword in a bid to cash in on $2.5 million in life insurance policies, will spend at least four years in jail for helping cover up her ex-husband's crimes.

Supreme Court Justice Peter Hamill found the 27-year-old mother deliberately misled police for months after her father-in-law's murder, participating in an "extraordinary web of deceit" and giving police statements "littered with lies".

Michael Anthony Martin, affectionately known as Mullet Mick, was savagely hacked to death on June 13, 2014, in his Murwillumbah unit by his son Michael Phillip Martin, who a jury last week found guilty of the murder after an eight-week trial in the Supreme Court in Lismore.

Candace had earlier pleaded guilty to both attempted murder and accessory to murder after the fact.

She knew of her husband's plan as far back as December 2013 when he told her: "I have this idea that will get us out of debt… I could take an insurance policy out on my biological (father) and take him out".

Then on December 20 2013 she told him: "Do you what you gotta do, and I'll just cover your arse."

She knew that Michael had taken out a $1 million insurance policy in his father's name in February 2014.

She then willingly agreed to cover for her husband as he drove to Murwillumbah late on April 6 2014 armed with a sledgehammer and a "very large knife" along with a tarpaulin to disguise his black Jeep Cherokee as it crossed the border.

Having seen him set off at 7.30pm, Candace posted on the couple's joint Facebook account as Michael. The post was written in a way that made it appear that Michael was still at their home in Esk and had an alibi "just in case" he carried through on the murder.

But the first attempt at murder was a failure - "Mick" survived albeit with life threatening injuries such as a collapsed lung, a pierced eye, and neck, and complications which kept him in hospital for almost two months.

In a shocking revelation that was never aired during Michael's trial, Candace alleged that he tried to murder his father a second time in hospital by injecting him with a toxic mix of blood, faeces and bile.

Justice Hamill noted in his sentence that he could not determine the truth of this claim.

Candace said she found the syringes in late April or May 2014 and burnt them in the family fireplace.

Shortly after his father's release from hospital, Michael drove him to Murwillumbah on June 12 under the pretense that he would help him move out of the squalid flat.

But that night he stabbed him 12 times with a samurai sword, killing him and pretending he was the victim of a home invasion.

The murder weapon which was later ground down and disposed of with a Coles cooler bag and acid at the Esk landfill, according to Candace.

After the murder, Candace actively continued the pretence that her husband was an innocent victim of a home invasion that night from unknown assailants.

On five separate occasions between June 2014 and March 2015 she lied to police about the truth of what happened to her father in law in what  Justice Hamill described as a "persistent and ongoing" cover up.

In a text to her husband on February 14, 2015, she said: "Stop playing the 'poor me' card about your dad. It was hard… but it is done."

Candace went to her husband's workplace at Somerset Regional Council after his arrest in March to retrieve a copy of a damning confession letter he sent to her after their separation in early 2015.

Justice Hamill said Candace's story that she thought she was sent there to retrieve a psychiatric referral lacked credibility.

Police had already seized the letter.

By this time, Candace's façade of lies was crumbling.

The day before her arrest on April 9 she told a friend: "I'm in so much trouble if they find out the truth".

The following day she told a fellow inmate the Brisbane Watch House: "My husband was (an) abusive arsehole and he murdered his father and I knew about it and I lied for him".

In summing up, Justice Hamill said Candace appeared to have "no real sense" of the "enormity and gravity of what she and her ex-husband did", and she remained in "partial denial" and "self-justification".

Her evidence was "self serving" and it was "difficult to distinguish fact from fiction".

However, Justice Hamill said she had "complex" motivations in agreeing to help her husband's murderous plot, which included greed, but also fear of Michael, and an equal reluctance to lose him - her first love - to jail.

Due to special circumstances relating to Candace's family, Justice Hamill said his sentence needed to be "tempered by a significant degree of compassion".

Candace had good prospects of rehabilitation and was unlikely to reoffend, he said.

For the crimes of attempted murder of her father-in-law on April 7, 2014, and accessory to murder after June 13, 2014, Candace was sentenced to a total of nine years jail with a four year non-parole period.

She will be eligible for release on October 25, 2021.



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