Zeehan man jailed for assaulting roommates after they said they wanted to move

An 83-year-old Zeehan man who attacked his two housemates with an ax after they told him they wanted to move has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Richard Andrew Burke appeared in the Launceston Supreme Court and admitted to assaulting his roommates while they were sleeping in their bedroom at 4 a.m. on June 19, 2021.

The court heard that Burke was living with 80-year-old Wendy Geddes and her daughter, 65-year-old Tracey Geddes.

“You went into their room armed with an ax while they were both asleep and punched Wendy in the head,” Supreme Court judge Robert Pearce said in his sentencing submissions.

Awakened by this, Tracy ran to disarm you… you then hit her on the arm and head.

“Wendy wrestled with you and disarmed you…they took their car keys and fled and called the police.”

Tensions flared up after plans for a houseboat

The court heard that the three had been friends for more than a decade and shared a fondness for boats.

Tension had arisen between them when the Geddess decided to move to Victoria and buy a houseboat.

The court heard that Burke had paid bail for the Zeehan home they lived in and that the women would contribute the rest after the sale of their Queenstown home.

But the women changed their mind and told Burke they were moving.

“You got angry and upset,” Judge Pearce said.

Burke pleaded guilty to committing an unlawful act intended to cause bodily harm by striking Wendy Geddes in the head, face and arms, causing deep lacerations.

He also pleaded guilty to intentionally inflicting bodily harm on Tracey Geddes by hitting her on the head and left arm with the same axe.

The court heard that the women were deeply religious and had suffered psychologically since the attack.

Justice Pearce also said that Burke and his mother were prisoners of war in World War II.

Burke will be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence.

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