‘I feel like I’ve been given a life sentence too’
THE shattered mother of slain police officer Damian Leeding is fighting to stop the man convicted of her son's manslaughter being freed from jail early - describing learning of his potential release as "another dagger through my heart".
Just four years after being sentenced for his involvement in the cold-blooded killing of Gold Coast detective Senior Constable Leeding - who was gunned down while trying to foil an armed robbery at the Pacific Pines Tavern - it can be revealed Benjamin Ernest Power could be released on parole as soon as next month.
Sen-Constable Leeding's mother, Julie Waters, learnt on her son's birthday that Power could be set free. In a heartfelt letter to the parole board, an angry Ms Waters has pleaded for the killer to be kept behind bars.
She told how her family has been "shattered and broken" since Sen-Constable Leeding's "appalling and callous" murder on May 29, 2011.
"The lives of my family changed forever the day we lost Damian and it's had a devastating impact on all of us," Ms Waters told The Courier-Mail yesterday.
"I feel like I've been given a life sentence too. I can't believe Powers could be out of jail so soon and back getting on with his life. Lucky him."
In a crime that shook the nation, Sen-Constable Leeding, a 35-year-old father-of-two, was shot after bursting into the tavern to be confronted by armed robber Phillip Graeme Abell, wielding a sawn-off shotgun.
Abell shot Sen-Constable Leeding in the face at point-blank range.
The highly respected Coomera detective died three days later in Gold Coast Hospital.
Abell and co-accused Donna McAvoy were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.
Power, who was McAvoy's boyfriend and drove the getaway car, was jailed for nine years for manslaughter. He was declared a serious violent offender, meaning he had to serve at least 80 per cent of his sentence before being considered for parole.
But having served almost three years behind bars before he was sentenced, he is up for parole on August 11.
Ms Waters said she was notified on her son's birthday in January that Power would seek parole.
"That was just another dagger through my heart," she said. "I can't even be heard or represented at the parole hearing to voice my opinions. It's just so frustrating.
"I feel there's a lack of consideration for the feelings of the relatives of serious crime victims, and a lack of consultation about the process."
Ms Waters said that she did not know how she would cope if Power was released.