An Australian Behaving Like A Beast
'Road-rage killer unrepentant as he is jailed for life' The Courier-Mail, 26/3/2003

A GOLD Coast man was last night sentenced to life in prison for bludgeoning another man to death after a road rage incident.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard how the victim, Chinese national Thomas Xun Li, was only weeks away from learning he was about to become a father when his life ended on January 30, 2001.

Phillip Rapimana Deane, 21, confessed in a videotaped police interview to bashing Li with a wheel brace in his Labrador home because Li had cut him off while driving.

His alleged accomplice, James Kahu Rerekura, was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter and walked out of the court to celebrate his 21st birthday.

Li's wife Shen Min told the court she was five weeks pregnant at the time. She wept several times while describing how she had resisted grieving for her husband so her baby boy, Li Zhiheng, would be healthy.

"My beloved husband was killed by two home breakers in his room," she said. "When I was told, I could hardly believe my ears. Thomas had several choices where he intended to study abroad, he chose Australia because he thought peace was all over the country."

Deane had to be shackled after earlier shouting that he would sack Justice George Fryberg. He repeatedly interjected throughout the trial and tried to leap out of the dock on Monday, but yesterday he waived his right to speak and even refused to stand as Justice Fryberg read out his sentence.

"You have heard the grief and distress your conduct has caused," Justice Fryberg said. "You are not an unintelligent person (and) you went to university for a period of one year. You will sooner or later have to come to terms with what you did. Until you do that, there is no chance you can reform your life."

Crown prosecutor Jeff Hunter told the court Mr Li was an industrious young man who had a lot to offer society before he was murdered.

"It is a matter of great regret that his life appears to have been taken for next to no reason," Mr Hunter said.