More than a year after mother-of-three Tara Costigan died from wounds inflicted by an axe to her head while she held her one-week-old baby in her arms, Canberra man Marcus Rappel has this morning pleaded guilty to her murder. Family members including uncle Michael Costigan, pictured, looked on.
The young court official who read out the charges before Justice John Burns in the ACT Supreme Court at around 9.45am spoke with a quavering voice at times. Rappel himself pleaded quietly and with little obvious emotion.
Friends and family of Costigan murmured quiet cheers of “Yes!” as Rappel, who has been in custody since the murder took place in a Calwell home last year, pleaded guilty to the charge of murder and again as he pleaded guilty to the charge of actual bodily harm.
Rappel, who wore a black suit, had a freshly shaven head, and appeared thinner than on his last court appearance a few weeks ago, avoided all eye contact while entering and leaving the court room in cuffs, and looked straight ahead throughout his appearance.
He was escorted by four corrective services officers, including the territory’s most senior uniformed corrections officer, General Manager of Custodial Operations, ACT Corrective Services Don Taylor. Two Sheriff’s Officers were also in court.
Rappel’s silver-haired mother, dressed in a floral blouse, sat in the front row with a young woman by her side.
Rappel, who is the ex-partner of Costigan, did not plead on a fourth charge due to a dispute in relation to some of the facts in the matter.
The court will hear of the contested facts relating to that charge over two days in coming weeks. Medical evidence will be presented in relation to whether the injuries resulting from that count of assault constitute grievous bodily harm.
Pictured are prosecutor Shane Drumgold (above) and Tara Costigan’s uncle, Michael Costigan (top), leaving the court after the arraignment. Photos: CHARLOTTE HARPER