Tara Costigan's family break down as triple 0 call by sister played in court

Tara Costigan's family break down as triple 0 call by sister played in court

Tara Costigan's family and friends sobbed and screamed as the harrowing triple zero call made by her sister moments after Ms Costigan was fatally struck in the neck with an axe played in court.

Marcus Rappel attacked and killed Ms Costigan, 28, after he forced his way into the Calwell house where she was feeding their seven-day-old daughter on February 28 last year.

Marcus Rappel pleaded guilty to killing Tara Costigan.

Marcus Rappel pleaded guilty to killing Tara Costigan.

Ms Costigan sought an interim domestic violence order against Rappel the day before her death after she had grown concerned by her ex-partner's increasingly abusive behaviour towards her and her family.

Rappel has pleaded guilty to murder, breaching a protection order, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm stemming from the attack.

Victim: Tara Costigan.

Victim: Tara Costigan.


His case returned to the ACT Supreme Court this week for a disputed facts hearing – held when the defence and prosecution cannot agree on the details of an offence – linked to a series of events surrounding the killing.

In the triple zero call played in court on Tuesday, Ms Costigan's sister Rikki Schmidt, who was one of several relatives at the house that day, can be heard frantically begging for an operator to hurry up as he asks for her address and phone number.

"I don't have time, my sister's been hit in her neck with an axe," she screamed.

When the operator asked her what happened she said: "My sister's ex came into the house with an axe."

She said Ms Costigan was on her stomach with an axe wound to her neck and they feared her neck would break if they moved her.

They were holding a towel to the wound to stop the bleeding but Ms Schmidt was heard to become increasingly distressed as she told the emergency call operator her sister was not breathing.

"She's going to die, can you please hurry up."

Ms Costigan's aunt, Maria Costigan, was among many supporters in the packed public gallery who shed tears as the recording started to play.

She sobbed loudly and screamed as she fled the courtroom soon after.

Rappel sat hunched over with his head between his knees and cried.

One of Ms Costigan's friends wept as she watched Rappel and walked out of the courtroom saying: "He's not crying, he's not crying."

She then shouted at him: "You don't get to cry."

Earlier, the court heard a recording of Ms Costigan's application for an interim domestic violence order against Rappel in court the day before the attack.

Ms Costigan detailed Rappel's violent behaviour, telling the court he had been verbally abusive throughout their 16-month relationship, he was constantly sending her abusive messages and she was fearful he would show up at her house.

She said Rappel had called her a slut, liar and cheat before he grabbed a lamp from a bedside table and smashed it, telling her to "crash into a tree", one day in December.

The night the pair split in January Ms Costigan said Rappel had cracked his knuckles and spat on her before saying: "Shut the f--- up c---- before it's the last thing you say."

Ms Costigan said Rappel acted as if everything was her fault and had repeatedly accused her of sleeping with other men.

She said her biggest concerns were that Rappel might take their baby daughter away and he was still using the drug ice.

He had been aggressive towards his own family members but had never physically assaulted her, she said.


Police witnesses told the hearing officers had seized a mobile phone smeared with blood, as well as a packet of valium, a meat cleaver and tomahawk from Rappel's ute after the attack.

Rappel returns to court for a sentencing hearing in August.

Megan Gorrey is a reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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