Cory Ryther: 'I may as well died that night as well'
AS A Cherbourg man was being sentenced to life behind bars for murdering a pregnant Logan woman, her partner Cory Ryther told him: "I may as well have died that night too".
Standing in Brisbane Supreme Court facing his wife's killer, Mr Ryther told Andrew Michael Burke the couple had already named the baby inside Joan's belly when she was "brutally attacked, raped, mutilated, strangled and left for dead".
He said it was an "inhuman act carried out in cold blood for what appears to be no relevant reason" and it had affected families on three continents - with many members of Mr and Mrs Ryther's families living overseas.
"We were looking forward to having a good future, we meant no harm or no malice to anyone, we just wanted to live and be progressive members of society," he said.
"Emotionally, once detectives told me my wife had passed, I've never felt such pain. "I may as well have died that night too. The life drained out of me."
Burke had pleaded not guilty to murder, rape and causing the death of an unborn child but a jury on Monday returned guilty verdicts on all three offences.
Justice Debra Mullins sentenced Burke to life in jail for what she described as heinous and vicious acts.
He will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum 20 years behind bars but Justice Mullins said parole boards would decide whether he should be released back into the community.
Justice Mullins said Mrs Ryther, 27, was walking to her night shift at Logan McDonald's while Burke was in the area to steal cars. She said there was a small window of opportunity when Burke came across her in the street.
"She was raped with an implement. The evidence indicates it was a screwdriver … causing massive injuries to her genital region," she said.
"She was kicked and assaulted and there were signs she was strangled.
"She died where she was lying face down in the yard in a pool of her own blood.
"The cause of her death was the injuries she suffered in the course of the assault by you."
Mr Ryther said he had not been able to eat or sleep properly since that day and slept on the couch because he could not bring himself to sleep in the bed he had shared with Joan.
He said rage had consumed him, something that was not in his nature, and he had not been able to work for three years because he suffered depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
"Life for me now is empty and hollow. There's nothing to live for," he told Burke.
"I felt guilty because I felt like I couldn't protect my family.
"I have learned how to hate, thanks for teaching me that.
"I have never felt anything this malignant in my body, ever."
Burke has already served 1121 days in custody in the lead-up to the trial.
The court heard he had a history of dishonesty offences in the Ipswich and Richlands regions. - ARM NEWSDESK