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Female domestic violence:

Four women execute de facto 

Anna Marshall - 16 September 2006

It was an offer he couldn't refuse. Paul Snabel had  been partying all night. In the early hours of the morning his girlfriend Karen Randall phoned and said, meet me for sex.

The sun was rising as Karen's sister Donna picked up Paul Snable and drove him to a remote property in rural Victoria. He had no inkling that this was to be his last day on earth.

For Paul Snabel was heading into a trap set by four murderous women.

Although the events occurred in 1989, they were brought to light on the Forensic Investigators program aired on Channel Seven this week.

Randall had wanted to permanently end the on-again off-again relationship with Paul Snabel but he was infatuated with her and kept phoning her and calling around.

By October 1989, Randall didn't want anything to do with her former lover. But he persisted and continued to phone her. It was a fatal mistake.

Randall called a meeting of her closest friends. 

At the meeting were Rhona Heaney and Karen Randall's sister Donna. The fourth member was Irene Maslin, a big, aggressive woman with a domineering personality.

Donna Randall later told police in a video-taped interview that the women had discussed Paul Snabel as "a problem that needed to be dealt with".

Then one woman, probably Maslin, coolly suggested he be killed. The sinister plot began to take shape and it was decided each of the women should be given a role in the execution.

Karen Randall was to be the bait, to lure Mr Snabel to the murder house with a promise of sex.

Donna would take him there and Heaney would inject him with a lethal cocktail of amphetamine and battery acid, which they believed would bring on a heart attack, making his death look accidental.

Heaney's house in Mirboo North in Victoria's Gippsland area was chosen for the murder because it was remote and safe from prying eyes.

Mr Snabel took a phone call from Karen. The following dawn, Donna drove him to the house.

The unsuspecting Mr Snabel was kept off guard all day as the women plied him with whisky and rode pillion on his red and white Yamaha 250cc motorcycle.

When the time was right, Heaney pounced and injected Mr Snabel. But the syringe was too small to inject enough of the poisonous concoction to kill him.

It appeared to have little effect and Maslin was angered, half an hour later, to see Mr Snabel riding around on his motorbike.

Maslin ordered a party attendee, Ian Gillin, a local man described in court as of lower-than-average-intelligence, to finish off Mr Snabel with a baseball bat.

Gillin crept up behind him as he sat in  a chair and struck him a number of times on the head with the baseball bat. Sickened by what he had done, Gillin ran outside and threw up.

But Paul Snabel was still alive and, as he sat slumped in the chair with blood streaming down his face, Maslin asphyxiated him by tying a plastic bag over his head.

Later that night Maslin and Heaney wrapped the corpse in a tarpaulin and dumped it in remote bushland. They didn't even bother to bury it.

Maslin ordered her husband and Gillin to cut up Mr Snabel's motorbike and scatter the pieces around tips and dams in the area.

The plan came undone when children found parts of the distinctive red and white bike and handed them in to police.

The police began investigations and the body was found several weeks later.

Gillin admitted to police his part in the murder. When asked  why he tried to murder someone he had just met he told police he was scared of Irene Maslin. He served three years of a four year sentence.

The Randall sisters served just two years of four year sentences.

Maslin and Heany served ten years of fifteen year sentences. They are now out of jail.

At her trial, Justice Vincent told Maslin the brutal killing would not have been carried out without her determination and strength of character.

He said she had acted resolutely to kill Paul Joseph Snabel "and had placed a pitifully small value on his life".

"Irene Maslin was a real Charles Manson," said a Mirboo North local told the media at the time.

"People were frightened of her. She was scary. She could chill you to the bone just by looking at you." 

In a video-taped interview Gillin told police that after Maslin had put the plastic bag over Mr Snabel's head, tied it with elastic and said: "That should make him die." 

 

 

Irene Maslin
Karen Randall
Donna Randall
Rhona Heaney
 

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