Bayswater, Australia – The sentencing hearing has begun for David Warwick Hopkins, 42. Hopkins has pleaded guilty to killing his former girlfriend, Nicole Joy Millar, by first stabbing her – and then incinerating her – at a gas station in the early morning of June 1, 2010.
The incident wasn’t entirely without warning. The court heard testimony that, a week earlier, Hopkins had smashed his vehicle into Millar’s and threatened to kill her.
On the morning of June 1, though, Hopkins was reportedly with Millar – filling the tank of her car while she sat inside it. The court account says that Hopkins then leaned in Millar’s car, stabbed Millar in the neck with a knife and sprayed her with gasoline from the nozzle. He then lit her on fire using his cigarette lighter. Millar, engulfed in flames, fell from her burning vehicle. Witnesses – thinking that it was a tragic accident – tried to come to her aid.
Prosecutor John Champion told the court that Hopkins slashed at his own chest with the knife and warned the witnesses that they would be attacked if they approached. Video cameras documenting the attack showed Hopkins keeping help away from the fully conscious and pleading Millar for 3 minutes and 21 seconds.
Which is, basically, an eternity…
During this time, Hopkins taunted Millar as she tried unsuccessfully to crawl to help while in flames. He also taunted the on-lookers.
“She was heard to be continually screaming in pain and for help as her clothing and body continued to burn,” Champion said.
The video eventually shows Hopkins retreating when a witness, Darren White, drives his Hummer at Hopkins. The others were then able to rush to her aid and extinguish the flames. Millar was taken to a nearby hospital. As she was placed in a medically-induced coma, she reportedly begged the attending anesthetist to “please don’t let me die.” Millar would die as a result of her burns about 8 hours later.
“It’s horrific, it’s barbaric, beyond the comprehension of almost any civilised human being,” Justice Betty King said in the Supreme Court yesterday, after watching CCTV footage of the crime. “I haven’t come across anything quite like it in my 35 years (in law),” King added.
It would later be alleged that Hopkins was, in fact, under the influence of a mixture of cannabis, speed, methamphetamine, Viagra, testosterone and alcohol. Hopkins, who pleaded guilty to murder, was unsuccessful in a last-minute attempt to change his plea to not guilty by reason of a drug-induced dissociative state.
The current hearing includes victim impact statements. One of Millar’s children, Ashlea Millar, spoke of her pain.
“I thought that mum had finally found someone who loved her,” Ashlea said of Hopkins – who had been in a relationship with her mother for about 18 months. “I feel that my heart has been ripped out.”
Hopkins sentencing date has not yet been announced. As Australia apparently subscribes to the Canadian brand of justice, it is being reported that Hopkins may receive life in prison.
We can only hope.Tags: Australia, Burning, David Warwick Hopkins, Murder, Nicole Joy Millar, Stabbing