Tia Landers was murdered in June 2014.
Tia Landers was murdered in June 2014. Contributed

'Chainsaw massacre' murderer loses bid to downgrade plea

A WOMAN serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of mother-of-four Tia Landers has lost an appeal to downgrade her plea to manslaughter.

Linda Eileen Appleton argued "she felt threatened by her victim's family" when, on day five of a murder trial in Brisbane Supreme Court in October, joined her co-accused John Edward Harris in pleading guilty to the murder on June 16, 2014.

In asking the Queensland Court of Appeal for an extension of time to hear her case and vacate her plea, she claimed she had no intention of killing Ms Landers at Brighton that day.

She said her actions of the day of the murder were under duress from Harris, she had taken a cocktail of drugs and she was suffering from mental health issues after ceasing to take her anti-psychotic medication.

Justice Burns, in a judgment handed down on Friday, said the plea came "in the face of what was an overwhelming Crown case" and was unremarkable.

He said two eye witnesses, Jake McKenzie and Ryan Morgan, had given damning testimony about Appleton's active participation "in what was a concerted, sustained and merciless attack on the victim".

During the trial, Mr McKenzie, from Beerwah, told the jury it was "like something out of a chainsaw massacre" as he described a bloodied woman limping down a hallway trying to escape her torturers.

Justice Burns said the two men testified the attack took place over the course three to four hours and culminated in Harris shooting Ms Landers dead.

Ms Landers' body was dumped in a shallow grave in the Beerwah forest and found in July 2014.

Justice Burns also pointed to recorded telephone calls seven days before the attack on Ms Landers, just before Appleton was released from custody.

"The recurring theme was the serious harm Appleton intended to cause the victim on her release (e.g. "I'm going to f***ing bust this bitch so f***ing bad", "I'm going to smash her f***ing skull in")," he said.

"It cannot be said that Appleton misunderstood she was pleading guilty to murder or that she could not, in law, have been liable to conviction for that offence.

"I am unpersuaded that the entry of her plea was other than entirely voluntary."

Appleton was sentenced to a non-parole period of 23 years.

- News Regional



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