Man snapped and killed partner after she sought help

·3-min read

When his homeless former partner came to him for help, Ricky John Williams paid for her taxi, helped her into the shower and they settled in to watch a movie together.

But when she decided she wanted to leave, Williams snapped.

He picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed Carmen Niklaus.

"She sat on the bed and said 'don't hurt me'," he told police afterwards.

"I said 'I don't want to hurt you' and then I stabbed her again."

Williams pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Niklaus in his Everton Caravan Park cabin near Wangaratta on December 6, 2021.

The pair had previously been in a tumultuous relationship and, though separated, she occasionally reached out to him for food or accommodation support.

Ms Niklaus, who was homeless, had been to see support services in Wangaratta with her new partner the day of her death and had been given a swag to sleep in for the night.

Instead she went to see Williams, who had been living at the caravan park for several weeks after receiving his own accommodation support.

He had previously paid for a taxi for her to visit him, and gave a taxi driver $50 when she was dropped off on the afternoon of her death.

Within three hours, she was dead.

"She wasn't there to be with me, she just had nowhere else to go," Williams told police after his arrest.

He was jailed for 24 years on Friday by Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Champion, who ordered he serve at least 18 before becoming eligible for parole.

Williams told police he didn't remember anything after snapping and stabbing Ms Niklaus.

CCTV footage and witnesses say he left and re-entered the cabin several times.

He called his social worker and told him that he had stabbed Ms Niklaus and asked him to come pick him up.

The social worker refused.

Williams then called his son, telling him "I'm so sorry buddy, I'm going to be away for a long time".

Neighbours found Ms Niklaus covered in blood but still alive and tried to stop the bleeding.

But she was later declared dead at he scene by paramedics.

At no time did Williams call for help, Justice Champion said.

The court heard he had suffered an acquired brain injury when he was knocked unconscious in a fight when he was 14.

He described feeling more angry and rebellious after that incident and experts described him as impulsive and being in a chronic state of fight or flight.

But Justice Champion said he was unable to find that injury had any connection with Ms Niklaus' murder.

He did find there was some level of remorse, and that while Williams had not called for help for Ms Niklaus he told police he had closed her eyes and kissed her on the cheek after stabbing her.

He wrote a letter to the court taking full responsibility for her death and describing his great sadness and overwhelming guilt.

Justice Champion said it was evident Ms Niklaus was loved by her family despite and throughout challenging periods in her life, and that her family had experienced significant grief.

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