An Adelaide father who tried to kill his young daughter “in spite” and “revenge” on his wife, hopes to one day “regain” his child’s trust, a court has heard.
- The court heard that Shaun Mate was physically and verbally violent in his marriage
- Mate and his young daughter were found unconscious in their home in Eden Hills
- The girl did not suffer long-term physical injury
WARNING: This story contains details that may cause some readers concern.
Shaun Preston Mate, 45, pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his then three-year-old days before his Supreme Court trial was due to begin earlier this year.
Police officers found Mate and his daughter unresponsive and suffering from hypoxia in their home in Eden Hills in July 2020.
The young girl spent five days in hospital – mostly in intensive care – after being exposed to a toxic gas and took weeks to recover from the injuries.
The court heard earlier that Mate’s marriage was “falling apart” in the run-up to the assassination attempt, and he had become verbally and physically violent.
Violation was planned, prosecutors say
In sentencing on Friday, prosecutors told the court that the “deliberate” offense had been a “defiant” act.
“This was not a sudden, heinous crime,” prosecutor Kos Lesses said.
Lesses said that when police visited Flinders Medical Center to arrest Mate when he regained consciousness, he asked unsolicited, “So she did not die then?”
“That comment is relevant to refute [a previous] indicated that he had not remembered the crime.
“This was planned, deliberate, with defiance and an element of vengeance.
“By all accounts, [the girl] was lucky to have survived. “
Mate regretted his actions
Defense attorney Marie Shaw told the court that her client had been “grateful and relieved” that his daughter had not suffered long-term injury.
“My client is deeply remorseful,” Ms Shaw told the court.
Through a statement read aloud by his lawyer, Mate said he “deeply regretted” her “heinous” actions and had been “grateful and relieved” that she did not suffer long-term harm.
He said he was “acutely aware of the damage” he had caused and was “deeply saddened”.
The court heard he hoped one day to regain trust in his daughter, who “he loved”.
“The punishment for having to live with what he was trying to do to his daughter … will never leave him.”
Assistant Judge Geraldine Davison did not allow Mate’s father to read a statement in court in support of her son, but said she would take it and statements from others into account when sentencing.
The court heard medical experts agree Mate had suffered from a severe depressive disorder at the time of the violation.
But Judge Davison questioned the connection between Mates’ mental illness and his decision to try to kill his daughter.
The charge of attempted murder has a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Mate will be convicted in August.