Public shouts as jury finds man guilty of murder

A FAMILY member of murdered Bradley Lester shouted "yes" from the public gallery as the jury decided the fate of Mark Anthony Smith.

It took less than an hour for the jury to hand down a guilty verdict yesterday, deciding Smith had murdered Mr Lester at the Sturt St Cutting on April 16, 2014.

Smith and Mr Lester were roommates at the Ozcare Townsville hostel, which offered temporary accommodation to homeless people.

Bradley Lester, who was murdered by Mark Anthony Smith.
Bradley Lester, who was murdered by Mark Anthony Smith.

He strangled Mr Lester to death over a 20 minute period.

Justice David North sentenced Smith to life imprisonment in Townsville Supreme Court.

"Yours was a senseless killing of Bradley Lester, no good reason could be imagined for it," Justice North said.

"But no circumstance was offered or suggested that in any it could excuse it."

Smith was also sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment over four charges including one count of assault of a police officer that occurred on March 17, 2014 about a month before he killed Bradley Lester.

The court heard Smith had a long history of mental illness, being diagnosed at the age of 16 with a serious psychiatric condition. Both of Smith's parents were also mentally ill, his father dying by suicide.

In a recorded police interview, Smith admitted he strangled Mr Lester, but lied about witness Dylan Page's involvement.

"I killed him," Smith told detectives.

"He went unconscious, he hit the ground, I then strangled him with my good hand. I killed him in cold blood."

In the video, Smith told detectives he grabbed Mr Lester by the throat and "it took me 20 minutes until he stopped twitching".

He told detectives Mr Lester talked too much.

Defence barrister Frank Richards asked Smith's psychiatric reports be submitted to the Department of Corrective Services. Mr Richards said Smith had shown remorse, which "was reflected at the time of the killing".

Crown Prosecutor Nigel Rees said Mr Lester's murder had a "tragic impact on his mother and father" and offered their victim impact statement to Justice North.