Murder victim Amanda Bliss.
Murder victim Amanda Bliss. PARKES GRAEM

How a former family friend killed popular teen in her home

TRUE CRIME: The brutality of Amanda Bliss's last moments rattled even hardened detectives.

Strangled, stomped and stabbed, the girl known as 'Smiley' was killed in her family home, by a teen her own mother had hugged.

The popular hockey player, 18, had disturbed a 16-year-old school friend of her brother, Robert, who was in the process of robbing his friend's house.

It wasn't the first time.

The Courier-Mail reported a year after her murder that the teen boy, who couldn't be identified and was referred to as Mark, had stolen from the Bliss family home numerous times before.

Retired Sunshine Coast detective Sergeant Des Mahoney recalled the relentless days that followed as they searched for Mark.

"I'll never forget the complete look of devastation and despair as she (Amanda's mother, Lesley) was sitting on the footpath outside when we turned up," Mr Mahoney told the Daily in late-2016.

"He'd stomped on her face after he murdered her."

The Elkhorn St, Kuluin murder scene was as grisly as they come.

 

Murder victim Amanda Bliss.
Murder victim Amanda Bliss. SUPPLIED

The killer's footprint left on Amanda from the brutal stomping became a vital clue which helped detectives catch the killer.

"In terms of display of evilness (it was the worst he'd seen)," Mr Mahoney recalled.

"To go to that extent after you've killed someone, yeah that shakes you up."

Lesley and Amanda had had a disagreement the last time they spoke.

When she arrived home to find her daughter's car parked out the front, she'd been eager to restore their normally close relationship.

Opening the door of her family home just after 5pm on June 6, nothing could prepare the Coast mother for what was in front of her.

Amanda lay dead.

She'd been punched, stomped on, strangled and stabbed six times in the neck and abdomen.

That anyone could do this to Amanda, let alone someone the family knew, astounded Lesley.

 

Lesley Bliss (centre) leaves Brisbane Supreme Court after a juvenile offender aged 17 was jailed for the murder of her 18-year-old daughter.
Lesley Bliss (centre) leaves Brisbane Supreme Court after a juvenile offender aged 17 was jailed for the murder of her 18-year-old daughter. HAMILTON PATRICK

A victim impact statement tendered by Amanda's shattered mother revealed she'd welcomed the killer into her home "over the years with open arms" and had forgiven him for stealing from them on previous occasions.

"I had even hugged the boy and told him that I would always be here for him if he had any problems. Now he has taken from me my most precious possession...," her statement read.

The Bliss family first encountered Mark in 1990, when Amanda was just 12.

A schoolmate of Amanda's brother, Robert, Mark was invited around to the Bliss home a number of times.

About 18 months later Lesley learnt through Robert that Mark had been travelling to Ipswich to steal cars.

About a year later Amanda, now a representative soccer and hockey player and Matthew Flinders Anglican College student, noticed $50 missing from her room.

A few weeks later, another $50 went missing.

Eventually Mark brought the stolen money back and Lesley hugged him, thanked him for returning the money and offered him a listening ear if he ever needed to talk.

Her son and Mark drifted apart after attending separate high schools and he was soon far from mind.

The Bliss home was targeted a number of other times in robberies believed to have been carried out by youths who stole bikes, fishing gear and an electronic game console and cartridges among other things.

Police were later able to prove Mark had broken in previously, after recovering the game console and cartridges.

Robbery had been the motive on June 6, when he broke in to the Bliss home for what would be the last time.

Returning home to pick up her cat, Amanda walked in on Mark as he was attempting to rob the house.

The boy tried to escape, but Amanda took a stand.

A brave stand for which she paid the ultimate price.

Locking the front security door from inside with her key, she reached for the phone to call police.

The plug was pulled and a struggle ensued.

Amanda was punched and strangled into unconsciousness in a headlock, before she was thrown to the floor, kicked and her head stomped on.

Her killer then walked into the kitchen, pulled a large knife from the bench and returned to stab Amanda to death.

The crime was so callous Lesley had expected it to have been committed by a man.

 

Detective Senior Sergeant Des Mahoney.
Detective Senior Sergeant Des Mahoney. Barry Leddicoat

For Des Mahoney, it was the worst possible return from annual leave, to attend such an horrific murder of such a bright young woman.

For the Bliss family, the pain would always remain.

Shortly after Lesley began campaigning for her daughter's killer, who'd been free on bail at the time of Amanda's murder, to face greater consequences for his crime.

She petitioned for a review of juvenile sentences so they received adult sentences for serious crimes.

It was revealed that Mark had committed a number of burglaries in the lead-up to Amanda's murder, including one during which he'd terrorised with a knife a boy hiding in a cupboard in a Buderim house.

Amanda's killer was sentenced to 14 years' jail in Brisbane Supreme Court, the maximum penalty available to Justice Paul de Jersey at the time.



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