Qld hammer killer shattered two households

0

In a trial all about money, a misplaced wallet led to the downfall of a Queensland financial planner who murdered a client to avoid disgrace and disappointing his family.

Instead of maintaining a good reputation, when Trung The Ma beat Huegio Bonham to death with a hammer to avoid being exposed as a thief, he shattered the lives of two families.

Ma, a former child refugee who’d fled communist Vietnam with his family, claimed at his trial he’d felt pressure for years from the weight of his father’s expectations that he succeed in life and provide for their extended family.

That boiled over in February 2014, during a business meeting with Mr Bonham, which was itself the culmination of nearly half a decade of deception, Ma’s Brisbane Supreme Court trial was told.

The 39-year-old had stolen $706,000 from Mr Bonham over four years, however it appears the 63-year-old was never aware of the thefts, Supreme Court Justice Sue Brown said in sentencing Ma to life in prison on Wednesday.

Instead, he was generally disappointed in the returns Ma’s firm, Brisbane Money Management, had been providing and was planning to take his business elsewhere.

If that happened, Ma’s theft would have been exposed, which is why he hurriedly arranged a private meeting with his best client at Mr Bonham’s Gold Coast home.

When his entreaties to keep the spiritual guru’s business fell on deaf ears, Ma bludgeoned Mr Bonham to death with a hammer he found on a shelf, an act which he claimed during his trial was an “out of body experience”.

He cleaned up, put the body in his car boot, bought a large plastic container and rented a storage shed to hold the remains.

However he made a crucial mistake – he dropped Mr Bonham’s wallet in a carpark when he bought the container.

Ma called the carpark’s management, asking about the wallet, claiming he was Bonham and saying he would send “his good friend” Ma to pick it up.

“You tried to cover up anything that might have connected you with Mr Bonham on the day in question,” Justice Brown said.

“Your actions taken to retrieve the wallet, however, ultimately led police to you.”

Ma progressively broke down under police inquiries, first claiming not to have met Mr Bonham on the day of the murder, to finally making a full confession.

Throughout the trial his lawyers argued he should be sentenced on a lesser manslaughter charge as he had “diminished responsibility” because he was mentally unwell and frantic that his fraud would be exposed and he would disappoint his family.

The jury disagreed, finding him guilty last week and on Wednesday Justice Brown said Ma had acted deliberately in the moment, and had not shown he was ashamed of what he had done.

“By your actions, you took the life of an innocent, unsuspecting man in his 60s, and tore the lives apart of two families – Mr Bonham’s, and your own,” she said.

Ma was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum parole period of 20 years, well as the maximum of two years for interfering with a corpse, to be served concurrently.

His time in custody is taken as time served so he will be eligible for parole from 2034.

Share.

Leave A Reply