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Man ‘sorry’ for killing love rival at Cessnock


A drug addict who killed a love rival in his Hunter backyard says he feels like “low-life scum”.

Joshua Walker Smith, 36, told the Newcastle Supreme Court on Thursday he was sorry for the pain and suffering he had caused the victim Ewan Sams’ family and he had recurring dreams of the night he decided when high on ice to drive his 4WD into Mr Sams causing fatal injuries.

“I’m constantly wondering why I just didn’t leave before it got so out of hand,” Smith told Mr Sams’ parents and younger brother sitting in court.

“I should have called the police.”

Smith said he hoped to be a “pillar of the community” when eventually released.

The father-of-two had been due to stand trial for murder on Monday before the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions agreed to accept his guilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Smith admitted driving into Mr Sams, 36, who was standing in front of his 4WD wielding a metal pole, and crushing him against his backyard garage.

Smith, with Mr Sams’ ex-girlfriend Kirby Armstrong in the passenger seat, then reversed out of the gate and drove off.

Mr Sams’ mother Janelle told the court on Thursday her son’s life began to unravel 18 months before his death when he confided in a girlfriend how he had been raped when he was eight and had kept the secret for more than 25 years.

But, Mrs Sams believed her son, a skilled chef and talented musician, had hit rock bottom because of his drug use and was about to turn his life around when he was “brutally killed”.

She said her son died two days after her birthday and now birthdays heralded grief, not joy, for her.

According to the statement of facts, Smith and Ms Armstrong drove to Mr Sams’ Cessnock home at about 11pm on 25 September, 2018, because Mr Sams was refusing to hand back her belongings.

Mr Sams claimed Ms Armstrong owed him money.

The couple crashed into the gate to access the backyard and saw Mr Sams going in and out of the house getting piles of Ms Armstrong’s belongings to put on a fire.

He grabbed Ms Armstrong after she got out of the 4WD to confront him, saying: “You know that I love you. I can’t handle having your stuff around any more.”

Ms Armstrong managed to get back to the 4WD but Mr Sams ran at the vehicle and tried to lift her out before Smith yelled at him to leave her alone.

Mr Sams picked up a metal pole and told Smith, “I’m gunna kill her” and “You can f***ing have her.”

He then picked up a paver and smashed the windscreen.

After Smith unsuccessfully tried to reverse out, Mr Sams threw the paver at him so Smith accelerated towards him, crushing him against the garage.

Mr Sams screamed “Stop!” several times after being struck.

Smith then reversed and as he was driving off Ms Armstrong tried calling triple zero but her mobile phone battery was dead.

Police and paramedics tried to revive Mr Sams but he was pronounced dead at 11.54pm.

Justice Stephen Rothman will sentence Smith on 11 March.

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