Teen who stabbed British mum to death in Australia jailed for 14 years

A teenager who stabbed a British mother to death in Australia has been jailed for 14 years. Emma Lovell, 41, was killed at her home in North Lakes, Queensland, on Boxing Day in 2022 while fending off two intruders.

The mother died of a single stab wound to her heart. She had emigrated to Australia from Suffolk in 2011 with her husband Lee, who survived the attack, and their two daughters.

The Australian teenager, now 19, who cannot legally be named, had previously pleaded guilty to her murder. At Brisbane’s Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Tom Sullivan said the attacker, then 17, had committed the “particularly heinous offence” after breaking into the property armed with a knife alongside another boy.

In his sentencing remarks, he said Mrs Lovell was described as “an energetic and beloved mother, wife, daughter, and sister”. He continued: “The Lovells were ordinary citizens enjoying their family life in their home where they were entitled to feel safe.

“What occurred on that Boxing Day evening violated that entirely.” The teenager who allegedly wielded the murder weapon had also pleaded guilty to burglary, malicious acts with intent and assault occasioning bodily harm over an attack on Mr Lovell.

The couple had attempted to fend off the intruders after they had been woken by their dogs barking at around 11.30pm, the court heard. Mr Lovell was injured during a “physical struggle directly outside the front door” which then moved to the front lawn, where his wife was fatally stabbed.

The second teenager being charged with the British mother’s murder is yet to enter any pleas. The court heard the 19-year-old had been convicted of 84 offences in the past, including 16 involving unlawful entry or attempted entry of properties, but none had been violent.

Justice Sullivan said he had taken into account the teenager’s childhood of “deprivation” but also had to consider “the seriousness of the offending”. He had turned to alcohol and drugs after the death of his grandmother when he was 14, the court heard.

Mrs Lovell’s death prompted outrage across Queensland and was one of many high-profile crimes that saw the state introduce stricter youth crime laws in 2023. It is now a criminal offence in Queensland if a child breaches bail conditions.

Children as young as 15 can also be fitted with GPS trackers, and the courts now have the authority to declare youths as serious repeat offenders in certain circumstances.