Queensland Court Revisits Parole in Chilling Cooler Murder Case

Matthew Leslie Armitage

Matthew Leslie Armitage, convicted in the manslaughter of Gold Coast drug dealer Shaun Baker, has been granted a new opportunity for parole. The Queensland Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that Armitage’s parole denial, based on the state’s “no body, no parole” laws, might be reconsidered.

Armitage was sentenced in 2021 for his role in the 2014 killing of Baker, whose charred remains were discovered near Gympie. The victim’s hands and feet, never recovered, led to the initial parole refusal in February under the stringent law. However, Judge Peter Flanagan’s interpretation suggests that the unrecovered parts do not disqualify Armitage from parole eligibility, as they are likely “incorporated into the environment” and no longer exist as identifiable remains.

In 2021, Armitage received a 9-year and 6-month prison sentence for manslaughter and interference with a corpse, with eligibility for parole in May 2022. His subsequent parole applications in August 2022 and February 2023 were rejected. The recent appeal challenges the interpretation of “no co-operation” under the “no body, no parole” law. A previous attempt to appeal was dismissed in September.

Armitage, alongside his father Stephen John Armitage and William Francis Dean, pleaded guilty to manslaughter after a drug-related dispute. The trio’s assault on Baker included heinous acts like keeping him locked in a commercial cooler and pouring honey on his genitals to attract ants. Both Stephen Armitage and Dean are currently serving 10-year sentences. Baker’s cause of death remains undetermined due to the condition of his remains.

Matthew Armitage’s case has raised legal questions about the application of “no body, no parole” laws, potentially impacting future parole decisions in similar cases.

Lou Nightingale
Author: Lou Nightingale

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