When Frankie Prineas was born, his mother held his hand and promised him she would always be there for him.
In an emotional hearing, his mother expressed her grief to the Canberra courts that over 27 years later, Frankie – a beloved son, brother, nephew and cousin – was alone when he was stabbed to death by Jayscen Anthony Newby last year.
Agreed court documents reveal Newby used to have a romantic interest in a woman, which was no longer reciprocated. The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, matched with Frankie on Tinder, and they messaged each other for several months.
On 10 January 2020, Newby began his night by drinking and playing pool with friends in Braddon.
During the night, he spoke to the woman and they had an argument. He continued to drink with his friends in Civic, finishing by downing shots at Mooseheads Pub & Nightclub.
At about 1:00 am on 11 January, he left the city and took a taxi to the street in Belconnen where the woman lived.
The woman had invited Frankie over that night and they were in bed when, unknown to them, Newby had let himself into her house.
He heard the woman and Frankie in the bedroom. Newby took a knife with a 25 cm blade from the kitchen, went into their room and turned the light on.
Frankie stood up to face Newby, but before he or the woman did anything, Newby began to stab him, cutting him multiple times while never saying a word.
After the unprovoked attack, he dropped the knife onto the bedroom floor and left the house. Frankie died when he arrived at the hospital.
Newby, 27, pleaded guilty to murder and appeared in the ACT Supreme Court for a sentencing hearing on Friday (30 April).
Members of Frankie’s family told the court about the pain they felt over losing him, starting with his father Victor, who said every day he imagined how many times his “poor son” was stabbed, and imagined the terror he must have felt as well as the pain he went through.
“My son was everything. I loved him with every ounce of my being,” Victor said.
“My son was a good man. He never hurt or brought harm to anyone, and to have his life taken away by such a coward is just senseless to me.”
Phillipena Prineas, Frankie’s mother, said when Frankie was born they held each other’s hands and she promised him that she would always be by his side.
But on the night of 11 January, she said she was not there to hold his hand or to soothe or comfort him.
“Frankie was alone. I feel I let my son down. And this is my struggle, and I live with that every day,” she said.
“I will carry sadness for the rest of my life. I will carry the guilt and failure, not as a mother, but as his protector. ”
Phillipena told Newby, who was sitting in the court’s dock: “You’ve taken away my everything.”
Frankie’s sister Paula Prineas said he was more than just a brother, he was her friend.
She said he was “extremely goofy and funny”, and that they had lots of inside jokes together which formed a “secret code”.
Victor said Frankie was named after his brother, who had died in a car crash after a person ran a red light. They are now both buried close to each other.
He described his son as a man with a “cheeky smile” who would “light up the room”.
“He made me proud to be a father,” he said.
Newby, wearing a blue suit with brown hair cropped short on top and shaved at the sides, kept his shoulders hunched and head bowed through much of the family’s statements.
After the family described their grief to the court, Chief Justice Helen Murrell told them she wanted to acknowledge the “incredibly deep loss” they were feeling but said the court did not sentence out of anger or to achieve vengeance.
“As hard as it is to hear it, no sentence that the court imposes will ease or heal your pain. That is a fact of life,” Chief Justice Murrell said.
She will hand down her sentence on 2 June.