A meth-using killer who repeatedly stabbed a man on a remote and rural road has been sentenced to jail for what a justice said was a “violent and brutal assault without reason”.
Samuel Albert Campbell was high when he began stabbing his two friends, Nicholas Robertson and Zane Kouaider, with a knife in the early hours of 15 February 2021 while they were all in a car on a road outside Cooma.
Mr Robertson, a 38-year-old from Adaminaby, later died at hospital from the 15 stab wounds he received.
On Thursday (20 July), Campbell was sentenced to a total of 26.5 years’ jail by the NSW Supreme Court for the charges of murder and wounding with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Justice Peter Garling said the then-21-year-old had moved back to Cooma from Queanbeyan and started sleeping at the home of 19-year-old Mr Kouaider, who Campbell had known since they were kids.
He was also regularly using methylamphetamine. On 12 February 2021, he received his Centrelink welfare payment, withdrew all of his money from his bank account and went to buy drugs.
Mr Kouaider saw his friend using the drug and becoming increasingly paranoid, like how he said, “Everyone’s watching me”.
Mr Robertson, a person Mr Kouaider looked at as a father figure, brought his dog over to the home on 14 February and during the night, Campbell accused him of seeing his ex-girlfriend, which Mr Robertson denied.
Around 2 am the next morning, Mr Robertson asked Mr Kouaider to drive him home to Adaminaby, so they got into the car with his dog and Campbell and started driving, but stopped to fill up a jerry can with petrol at a service station.
Campbell was paranoid when they started to drive again, making comments like, “Is the fuel in the back for me? Why are yous taking me out here? Are you going to kill me?”
“Why would we want to hurt you?” Mr Kouaider replied.
Suddenly Campbell, who was in the back passenger seat, stuck his body through the window frame and stared at Mr Kouaider through his window, making him slam on the brakes.
Campbell then used a knife to stab Mr Kouaider through his arm. Mr Robertson intervened, but Campbell leant into the front of the car and started repeatedly stabbing him in the chest.
“You’re killing me, you’re killing me,” Mr Robertson screamed.
He managed to get out of the car and tried to get away, but Campbell chased him and kept stabbing him. Mr Kouaider yelled at him to stop, but Campbell laughed and continued his attack.
Campbell also slashed Mr Kouaider on the finger before running off into the bush.
Mr Kouaider drove Mr Robertson to Cooma Hospital, but his friend died later that morning. Campbell was arrested in the same area where he’d run off.
Justice Garling said the murder was unprovoked and committed without reason. He was satisfied Campbell intended to kill his victim due to the location of the stabs, their depth and the persistence of his attack.
He also said the assault on Mr Kouaider was made without warning or reason and remarked that “he had no chance of defending himself”.
The justice said Campbell started drinking to excess at age 15 and became a heavy meth user when he was 16. A forensic psychologist thought he had a severe substance use disorder.
Justice Garling said he was well aware that an effect of his meth use was that he’d become aggressive towards others.
“The murder here was a violent and brutal assault without reason, carried out whilst the offender was suffering from the psychotic effects of methylamphetamine,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the offender’s conduct which led to Mr Robertson’s death was caused solely by the temporary effects of the ingestion of methylamphetamine by him. That was a matter of his choice.
“He is criminally responsible and morally culpable for his actions, and is to be sentenced on that basis.”
Along with his total sentence, he was also handed a non-parole period of 20.5 years.
As his sentence was backdated to account for time served, this means he is eligible to be released in August 2041, by which time he will be aged 41.