Wife of slain jeweller ‘in fear of her life’

The wife of an Irish jeweller stabbed to death in their Melbourne jewellery store last year has told how she cannot now sleep in her own bed out of fear but must rest in a chair downstairs where she feels she would be able to escape an attacker more easily.

Bridget O’Toole was also stabbed a number of times by Gavin Perry, the man who killed her husband of more than 40 years Dermot during a botched robbery.

Perry, who was high on crystal meth at the time of the killing, was yesterday sentenced to 27 years in prison. He will spend at least 23 years behind bars.

The couple had been about to close up their store, the Jewel Shed in Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula when Perry came in. After he pushed Mrs O’Toole into the cabinet, Mr O’Toole went to protect his wife. He tripped and graphic CCTV played in court showed Perry stabbing him. He then stole a bag of rings and fled.

Yesterday Mrs O’Toole told how she did not know initially that Perry had been stabbing her.

“He knocked me over and Dermot came out to defend me. He knocked Dermot onto the ground and then when Dermot was defenseless on the ground, he stabbed him twice. He stabbed a 20cm knife fully into him and pierced his liver, his heart, and lung. He came at me again and stabbed me several times.”

She said her husband died of blood loss in front of her.

“He just stood up for an instant, I thought he was all right and then he just looked at me and just, his last words to me were ‘call an ambulance, I have been stabbed’,” she told RTÉ. “I turned to run and grab the phone and I turned around and he was gone.”

In court, it emerged that Perry had a long criminal history with more than 200 convictions.

According to the Age news website he was jailed in 2009 for six years with a non-parole period of four years for armed robberies. He was released on parole in February last year and killed Mr O’Toole five months later.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Elizabeth Hollingworth said Perry had poor prospects of rehabilitation and was someone who would pose a continuing risk to the community.

After the hearing Mr O’Toole’s family criticised the state’s parole system which had freed Perry giving him the opportunity to attack the Jewellery Shed.

Mr O’Toole’s son Trent was quoted by ABC news as saying: “While we understand it’s under the perimeters of the law, we’re very devastated. We just hope that whatever the parole system is in the future, they think more of the community, and it doesn’t fail others like it did for us.”

Mrs O’Toole yesterday said she now no longer has the capacity to feel safe.

“I am absolutely terrified. I no longer go out walking,” she said.

“I have had a 6ft fence with an electronic gate installed in my house. I don’t even get into my bed at night. I just sleep in a chair because it will be easier to escape. I am too terrified. You just always think someone will break in. I have lost my capacity to feel safe.”


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