A “very moving” letter to a Supreme Court Justice has revealed the harrowing human toll behind Mangerton’s gruesome body-in-the-surfboard-bag case.
Alcoholism made former school teacher Mark Dower vulnerable before he was targeted for his money, beaten, effectively held captive and left to die from his injuries inside a public housing unit on Crana Place in 2015.
His tormentor, Mark Jenkin, dropped the 56-year-old’s remains from a second-storey balcony and left him to decompose in a shared laundry for about 12 days, as though he was nothing.
But to Mr Dower’s daughter, he was everything.
In a fat court file that details the inhumane circumstances of Mr Dower’s demise, a single page victim impact statement from his 29-year-old daughter was filed on Thursday, shining a light on a bond that stretched across the globe.
She described her father as a smart and kind man with a great sense of humour, who gave “the best life advice” and who was “my hero”.
She expressed loneliness, having lost her mother to cancer when she was aged seven, and said she now had no one left “to tell me any stories of my parents’ history”.
She said her father had regularly telephoned her and she was “devastated” to learn of his death.
“My father was all I had left of my family … I wish I could spend one more day with him ... I would tell how loved he is, no matter of his alcoholism or homelessness,” said the woman, who lives in Finland and has asked not to be publicly named.
“It breaks my heart to know how he died. This is what kills me the most. I am left with the image of my father suffering. No one deserves the behaviour my father had to experience. My father was the last person on this planet who would have deserved to die like that. He had had enough pain already in his life.”
She described her father’s death was “a nightmare”. “It is a tragedy most people cannot even imagine. Yet I am here left alone to live this thing called life, carrying this tragedy in my heart.”
The court earlier heard the Wollongong-born Mr Dower spent some of his happiest years in Finland, where he taught English and lived with his wife and daughter.
But the sudden death of his father and later his wife caused him a heartache he was not able to overcome. His mental health deteriorated upon his return to Australia and he turned to drinking. By early March 2015, he was a frail alcoholic living on a friend’s couch in Crana Place, despite receiving pensions from both the Finnish and Australian governments.
His income made him a target for the flame-haired Jenkin, who was found guilty in June of manslaughter, and of conspiring to kill a woman he feared would give evidence of how he treated Mr Dower.
Justice Peter Hamill was to consider a psychologist’s report before sentencing Jenkin on Thursday, Jenkin’s 47th birthday.
But the court heard the report wasn’t available as Jenkin had twice terminated his appointments with the psychologist – once because his girlfriend was also visiting jail that day and another time because he was physically sick.
Jenkin’s lawyer is seeking some leniency, arguing his client has become institutionalised after spending more than 19 of the past 26 years in prison.
His periods of incarceration include seven years for detaining and assaulting a security guard who was kidnapped from his Warrawong workplace in 2001.
With co-offenders, Jenkin savagely beat the man, extracted his PIN, took money from his account and took him into bushland near Mt Keira lookout.
The victim was convinced he was going to be killed and, kneeling, touched Jenkin’s leg as he begged for his life, only to be kicked seven or eight times.
A police dog later led officers to the terrified man, whose arms had been so heavily bound he required surgery for a fractured wrist.
In court on Thursday, Jenkin’s lawyer argued that his more recent plot to kill a woman he feared would turn Crown witness, using a “hotshot” of heroin so it would look accidental, was “particularly amateurish”, and should therefore be considered of a lesser severity.
But Crown prosecutor Michael Fox noted a man directed by Jenkin went so far as to arrange the heroin and to seek out the woman’s location. He said Jenkin’s offending was heightened by the fact he was interfering with a Crown witness.
“The present case involved a particularly cold-blooded agreement to casually murder another human being who was vulnerable because of her drug addiction and lifestyle,” Mr Fox said, in written submissions, noting Jenkin had referred to the woman as “a street-working junkie” and “some f-ckin’ scuz” in calls intercepted from a contraband mobile phone while in prison.
“It can be accepted that the offender considered [the witness] as a lesser human being and her life as less worthwhile and therefore her death as of no consequence.”
Justice Hamill paid tribute to the “very moving and, I think, restrained” statement from Mr Dower’s daughter, and to friends of his who had “kept quiet vigil” during Jenkin’s eight-week trial.
Jenkin will learn his fate when the matter returns to court on February 20.
Read the full victim impact statement from Mark Dower’s daughter:
“There are no words to describe how much I miss my father. I miss him every day. Small things remind me of him every day. He was the best father anyone could ever imagine. He was the most loving father. He was so smart, had a great sense of humour and he was the kindest man on earth. My father would have never hurt anyone. He never even raised his voice to me. We never argued. If I got upset, he would listen. He never argued back.
I am absolutely devastated about my father’s death. I lost my mother when I was seven years old. She died of cancer. My father was all I had left of my family. I loved him with all my heart. Even though my father lived on the other side of the world, we were very close with each other. We had a special bond. My father used to visit me in Finland almost every summer until I turned 18 years old. After that, I visited him many times in Australia. I wish I could spend one more day with him. Just to have a laugh together and to be able to hug him. I would tell how loved he is, no matter of his alcoholism or homelessness. My father is my hero.
My father gave the best life advice. After his death, there have been hundreds of times when I would have needed his advice. There were so many more stories I wish I would have heard from him. There is no one left to tell me any stories of my parents’ history. I miss our phone calls. He used to call me a lot. There have been so many life events and small things I wish I could have shared with him. If I ever will have children of my own, my children will not have the possibility to meet their Australian grandfather. I know my father would have been so happy to meet his grandchildren, so happy that he would have cried.”
It breaks my heart to know how he died. This is what kills me the most. I am left with the image of my father suffering. No one deserves the behaviour my father had to experience. My father was the last person on this planet who would have deserved to die like that. He had had enough pain already in his life. He was the kindest man on this planet. If there was anything I could do to change what happened, I would. If I could take my father’s place, I would. Even though he would never let me take his place, I would.
The death of my father is a nightmare. It is a tragedy most people cannot even imagine. Yet I am here left alone to live this thing called life, carrying this tragedy in my heart. I cannot get the image out of my head, knowing my father had to suffer before his death. This tragedy will affect everything in my life. It has and it will change me as a person as well as it has and it will affect my social life, my well-being, my mental health. I feel I am lost in this nightmare others get to call life, and there is no way out. There are no words to describe the pain and endless grief I have to carry for the rest of my life.
Nothing can ever substitute the lost life of my beloved father. No judgement can ever compensate the death of my father. We all have only one life and it is so fragile. The death of my father has affected so many lives. All I ask for is justice.”