Taylor said that on the morning of the murder, Basham went to great lengths to cover up his movements, then approached Fraser’s home just after she dropped their children off at school.
After meeting a friend at a cafe, Fraser arrived home at 11:22 am.
Basham ambushed her in her garage, attacked her and put a rope around her neck to make it look like she had committed suicide. His DNA was later found under Fraser’s fingernails and on the rope.
“In the garage, you brutally assaulted Mrs. Fraser,” Taylor said.
Taylor said a Fraser failed to return a call from a friend at 11:36 p.m. and failed to attend a counseling session at 12 p.m. When the mother of three failed to pick up her children from school, the police were alerted.
They found her body around 5:05 p.m. after forcing entry to her home, where they found a three-step ladder on its side near two scooters and children’s bicycles.
Fraser’s handbag was left in the front seat of her car next to her cell phones.
An autopsy later found that Fraser had more than 40 separate injuries.
It is believed that after committing the murder, Basham washed the blood off Fraser’s hair and face, removed her white top, and fled the scene.
“CCTV captured (Basham) walking away from the house at 12:04 am. His hood was up and his hands in his pockets. (He) seemed to have something stuffed on the front of his jacket,” Taylor said.
Basham was intercepted by police later that day for speeding, the officers described him as agitated and visibly upset. He arrived at his father’s home around 5:15 p.m. with a visible scratch on his nose.
He was arrested on July 26 and released without charge. Two days later, he arrived at an address in San Remo and found police taking statements from friends on the street.
To evade the police, Basham jumped a fence in an empty block, and when spotted by a neighbour, said: “If the police ask, you didn’t see anything”.
“(The witness) said it looked like there was something in your T-shirt,” Taylor said.
Neither Fraser’s white top nor Basham’s signature two-tone biker jacket, worn on the day of the murder, have ever been found.
The killer was later arrested and charged with murder on July 2, 2018. In April 2022, after a five-week trial, Basham, now aged 46, was found guilty.
The prosecution argued that the murder was premeditated and intended to prevent Fraser from testifying at his rape hearing the following week.
Taylor agreed, noting that Basham went to great lengths to conceal his movements on the day of her murder, including leaving his cell phone at his sister’s home in Chelsea Heights and driving to the crime scene on a motorcycle.
He avoided driving to Cowes by the most direct route, before being caught on CCTV shortly before 9:00 am walking along Seagrove Way with a jumper pulled tight around his face.
“I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder of Samantha Fraser was premeditated,” Taylor said.
“You were out on bail and will be questioned next week for rape. I am convinced that a large part of your motive was to prevent her from testifying in the rape case.
“I take it as an imaginative suggestion on your behalf at trial that you didn’t know she would.”
Fraser, a college captain and dux of her high school, later became a psychologist and a much loved member of the Phillip Island community.
More than 50 people gathered in the Supreme Court for Monday’s sentencing, gasping audibly and then applauding as Taylor sentenced Basham to life behind bars.
Taylor described Basham’s crime not only as heinous, but as the ultimate act of family violence.
Such violence, she said, was often largely invisible in public life and committed disproportionately by men known as hardworking, dependable fathers and community-minded citizens.
That reputation, she said, could not mask or excuse his abusive behavior.
“Your behavior towards Ms. Fraser within your marriage and your premeditated murder of her to prevent her from testifying to rape against you is behavior that is extremely selfish and demonstrates an extraordinary degree of entitlement,” Taylor said.
“Your decision to execute Samantha Fraser, a woman who found the courage to challenge you, protect her children from you, and live a life without you, was a cold one.
“You decided her life was expendable… (and) had the arrogance to think you wouldn’t get caught.”
Outside of court, Fraser’s friends and family sobbed and hugged each other as they reflected on what they believed had been a harrowing few years.
Her mother Janine Fraser said her daughter was preparing to campaign against marital rape at the time of her death. She now hoped that this would be her legacy.
“ANROWS data says one in four women is raped in intimate relationships. If this was a virus it would be called a pandemic. Things need to change so women are safe,” Ms Fraser said.
“Sam would talk to that. Now we have to be her voice.
Samantha Fraser’s close friend Nadine Leed said Monday’s punishment was the right outcome.
“We got justice for Sam,” she said.
Basham must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole.
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