Paul Mulvihill sentenced for murder of Rachel Yeo

Former rugby player Paul Darren Mulvihill has been sentenced to at least 22 years in jail for the stabbing murder of his former lover Rachelle Yeo, an attack which the judge described as "sustained and vicious".

The 46-year-old showed little emotion as NSW Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Fullerton handed down the sentence on Wednesday in front of a public gallery packed with Ms Yeo's family and friends, a number of whom were wearing yellow, which they described as the young woman's “spirit colour”.

Justice Fullerton sentenced Mulvihill to a maximum of 29 years with a non-parole period that makes him ineligible for release until February 5, 2035 (with time served).

She sentenced him to a maximum of 29 years with a non-parole period that makes him ineligible for release until February 5, 2035 (with time served).

Members of Ms Yeo’s family gasped as the sentence was handed down, before crying and hugging each other in relief.

“Rachelle didn’t deserve to lose her life – she didn’t deserve to be stalked or hunted or beaten or killed,” Ms Yeo’s father, Roger, said outside court.

“Rachelle’s message was that she didn’t love him anymore, she wanted him to leave her alone and go away. But her decision wasn’t respected. Nor was the decision of Lisa Harnum, nor was the decision of Kitty Duncan, or Victoria Comre Cullen, Kristie Camilleri or Margaret Tannous or Mariqa Anness or any of the other many many women who find themselves in similar situations.

On July 16, 2012 seething with anger about the end of their relationship more than four months before, Mulvihill lay in wait for Ms Yeo, 31, at her home at North Curl Curl on Sydney's northern beaches.

The former first grade rugby player then forced his way into the unit and stabbed his former lover with a kitchen knife in an attack which Crown Prosecutor Maria Cinque described during the trial as "a blood bath".

Neighbours heard the young woman screaming for help, as well as Mulvihill's telling them in a calm voice "I've got it under control".

Justice Fullerton said the young woman would have experienced "extreme terror" during the crime, and "an indescribable trauma when she knew that there were people trying to help her on the other side of the door".

Mulvihill claimed that the two stab wounds inflicted upon Ms Yeo - to her chest and neck - were accidental, occurring during a violent struggle which ensued after the young woman came at him with the knife.

But the jury rejected this claim, taking less two hours to find him guilty of murder at the end of a five week trial in March.

After the murder, Mulvihill leapt from the balcony of Ms Yeo's apartment and fled the scene in a silver rental car, throwing the murder weapon into the bush and later disposing of his bloody jumper and shoes.

She died soon after, before paramedics were able to break down the door.

Justice Fullerton said Ms Yeo had made it quite clear the affair with Mulvihill - which had begun in 2010 while the pair worked together at the Brisbane office of pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis - was over by the end of April 2012, when she moved to Sydney.

This was not long after Mulvihill's wife of 16 years, Theresa Mulvihill, discovered text message conversations revealing the affair, packed the former rugby player's bags and rang Yeo to ask "how do you sleep with yourself at night knowing that ... you are destroying our family?".

Justice Fullerton described his behaviour as "obsessive and vengeful".

Crucial to Justice Fullerton's decision was her finding that it could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the murder was premeditated. He she found that it was, the sentence could have been even higher.

Her honour found that, despite the fact that the 46-year-old had come to the apartment armed with a white chain, and that he had attempted to hide his movements, he may have intend to harm rather than kill her.

Nevertheless, once in the apartment, Mulvihill had formed the intention to murder his former lover, and had stabbed her twice in order to ensure that she died.

Mr Yeo called on the wider community to do more about violence against women.

“At the very least, as fathers, brothers, uncles, you have to warn your uncles and you have to warn your sisters,” he said.

“I swore never to permit, excuse or tolerate violence against women. There are just over 107,000 men in Australia who have made that pledge on the White Ribbon website – that’s only one per cent of the 11 million men in this country. “We can do better.”

The story Paul Mulvihill sentenced for murder of Rachel Yeo first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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