Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 21/07/2004, pg. 7

A GOONDIWINDI mother faces two mandatory life sentences after being found guilty of the murder and torture of a couple savagely bashed, bundled into a car boot, shot dead and left in isolated bushland.

Joanne Dale Palmer, 32, remained impassive in the dock as all 12 jurors in Toowoomba Supreme Court spoke in unison as they delivered their verdicts after a six-hour deliberation.

During the seven-day trial, the court was told Palmer assisted her step-brother Guyon Clark and her fiance Brennan Emmett to bash Sharon May Clark and James Gareth Hunt as they slept at their Goondiwindi home on December 23, 2002.

The murders have left four families shocked at the brutality inflicted on the young couple and heartbroken for the three children of Sharon and Guyon Clark and the four children of Joanne Palmer.

The day after the murders, Palmer told police she had gone with the two men to make sure a planned bashing to teach James Hunt a lesson would not get out of hand.

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne told the court Palmer’s actions in changing into dark clothes, putting socks on her hands to avoid leaving finger prints and driving to the scene of the shootings spoke louder than her words.

After the four guilty verdicts were delivered, another accomplice Daniel Bernard Smith, 22, was found not guilty of murdering the couple but was guilty of manslaughter.

Smith’s parents and his partner Rachel Nagle gasped with relief at the back of the court at the not guilty verdict, but were shocked at the manslaughter decision.

Smith told police he was scared of Emmett and handed him a loaded rifle knowing it would be used to shoot two people in the boot of a car.

Smith’s partner Ms Nagle was visibly disturbed as she left the courthouse with her two-year-old daughter in a pram and did not speak to waiting reporters.

Clark, 33, and Emmett, 39, have pleaded guilty to murdering Sharon Clark and James Hunt.

Palmer’s mother Beverley Dale Scott, 58, has pleaded guilty to four counts of assisting Clark and Emmett, knowing they were guilty of the murders, to escape punishment.

All five will be sentenced today.

Copyright 2004 / Courier Mail