7 February 2024

Remorseless, lying murderer Michael O'Connell jailed for 15 years over Easter killing of Danielle Jordan

| Albert McKnight

Michael O’Connell was found guilty of murder after a jury trial last year. Photo: Facebook.

A murderer lied to protect himself after he caused the death of a woman who fell from his car while he was driving and he has still not shown any remorse for killing her on Good Friday 2022.

Michael O’Connell, 44, was convicted of murder and sentenced to a total of 15 years in jail with 10 years’ non-parole by the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday (7 February).

He had been in an on-and-off again relationship with 40-year-old Danielle Patricia Fleming, also known as Danielle Jordan, and would go on to call her “the love of [his] life” in court.

Bail conditions had prohibited him from contacting her or going to her home in the north Canberra suburb of Melba, but despite this, he still went over there on 14 April 2022, Justice Belinda Baker said.

Early the next morning, Good Friday 2022, a teenage friend of Ms Jordan’s woke up in the home to hear an argument between the pair.

Ms Jordan had been trying to stop O’Connell from leaving the house, and they had gotten into a physical scuffle before he left, but he returned later that morning, and they got into another argument.

When he tried to get into his Mitsubishi Triton ute at around 4:40 am, Ms Jordan climbed onto its bonnet. He walked away and she got off, before climbing onto the bonnet a second time.

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He then drove off and the teenager saw Ms Jordan on his bonnet as they went around a corner on Coutts Place and Alfred Hill Drive.

Justice Baker said he drove for 200 metres while she was on the bonnet, travelling at less than 55 km/h in a 50 km/h zone before she fell after about 30 seconds. She hit her head on the road, resulting in an ultimately fatal head injury.

After she fell, O’Connell stopped, put her in his car and took off for hospital. The teenager had run around the corner and arrived in time to hear him say something like, “I’m so sorry, baby. I love you”.

But when he arrived at the hospital, he gave false accounts to medical professionals and Ms Jordan’s family about how she obtained her injuries.

O’Connell was found guilty of murder at the end of a jury trial.

Last year, the court heard how Ms Jordan’s nine-year-old daughter felt “frustrated, mad, lonely, sad” over the mother’s death, while Ms Jordan’s own mother said, “Every morning, I wake up and my daughter is dead”.

Justice Baker said O’Connell was a father to five children from three former partners, had worked as a greenkeeper and regularly used methamphetamine in the year before the murder.

She also said the author of a pre-sentence report found he hadn’t shown insight into the impact his offending had on others, including Ms Jordan’s family and the teenage friend. He had blamed his victim by claiming it was her “irrational behaviours” that led to the “tragic accident”.

Also, he claimed he lied about how she had gotten her injuries out of concerns for her “reputation”.

“It’s clear the offender provided these false accounts out of a desire to protect himself,” Justice Baker said.

In a letter, O’Connell told the court he still loved Ms Jordan.

“Words cannot describe how much I love and miss the victim on a daily basis,” he said.

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Justice Baker said the jury must have accepted he had foreseen the probability of Ms Jordan’s death and persisted in driving his ute regardless. She said he was clearly aware she was on the bonnet and could have stopped driving at any time.

But she also said he wasn’t rapidly accelerating or decelerating, nor was he speeding or swerving and it hadn’t been alleged that he had intended to kill her.

She didn’t accept the prosecution’s claims that he used his ute as a weapon but also said he hadn’t shown any remorse or responsibility.

As O’Connell’s sentence was backdated to account for time already served, he will first be eligible for parole in April 2032, by which time he will be 52 years old.

He has launched an appeal over his conviction, which will be heard in court in the future.

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