Plea deal ‘blindsides’ slain miner’s family

A man accused of murdering his colleague at a mine site has instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, angering the victim’s heartbroken family who were “blindsided” by the plea deal.

Troy Adam Hausler, 32, was charged with murdering fly-in, fly-out worker Tobias Richter, 40, at Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora site in November 2019.

But on the first day of his trial in the West Australian Supreme Court on Monday, prosecutors revealed the state wanted to discontinue the murder charge because there were no reasonable prospects of conviction.

The court was told there was insufficient evidence to prove an intention to kill.

Hausler’s lawyer Rebekah Sleeth told the court her client had experienced his first psychotic episode at the time, but he was not the direct cause of Mr Richter’s death.

His mental condition will be a factor in sentencing, but Ms Sleeth said he would not have been able to use the defence of insanity.

Camera IconTobias Richter, 40, died at a WA mine site in 2019. Troy Adam Hausler has now pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Supplied/Facebook via NCA NewsWire Credit: Supplied

Outside court, Mr Richter’s sister Vanessa said the family had not been consulted about the plea deal.

“We were totally blindsided. We are devastated. My family is broken, absolutely broken,” she said.

Ms Richter described her brother as a good guy and a hard worker.

“He wasn’t a fighter, he wasn’t confrontational,” she said.

Toni Dodd, whose sister Hayley Dodd was killed in 1999, is Mr Richter’s ex-partner and the mother of two of his children.

“We’ve been through this before and not got the result we wanted,” she said.

Ms Dodd said she was hoping for a “good sentence” but was concerned that would not happen.

The family has started a campaign for justice, including an online petition that has more than 8000 signatures so far.

Tobias Richter’s family have been left devastated. Supplied/Facebook via NCA NewsWire
Camera IconTobias Richter’s family have been left devastated. Supplied/Facebook via NCA NewsWire Credit: Supplied

In a statement, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said Mr Richter’s family was consulted in October and their views were known.

“However, following a case review in early 2022, it became apparent that there were no reasonable prospects of conviction on the charge of murder and that the prosecution would only be able to prove manslaughter, even if it could overcome the defence of insanity,” the statement read.

The ODPP said it would have been “inappropriate” to proceed with the charge of murder.

“Due to a regrettable misunderstanding, however, the family was not further consulted prior to the acceptance of the plea offer in this case,” the statement read.

“While in this case the family’s views could not overcome the absence of sufficient evidence, they were entitled to be heard prior to the decision being made.

“The DPP appreciates that the frustration and anger which Mr Richter’s family feel as a result of the decision, its timing and the most regrettable oversight in the ODPP’s communication with the family.

“Upon the family’s request for a review of the decision, the DPP personally met with the family, during which she apologised to Mr Richter’s family and took responsibility for the lack of proper communication.”

Hausler will face court again next month.

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