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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Tim Piccione

'My world is smaller': Daughter 'lost two parents' after mum murdered dad

Georgia Vella leaves the Supreme Court of New South Wales, in Sydney, on Wednesday. Picture AAP

A young woman felt "like I suddenly had no family of my own" after her mother fatally shot her sleeping father in their Murrumbateman home, a court has heard.

"My world is smaller," the deceased man's daughter said on Wednesday through tears.

"I instantly lost my father and my mother from my life."

A jury found Dale Lee Vella guilty in April of murdering her husband of 23 years, Mark Vella, in their family home on the night of August 9, 2021.

The woman, aged in her mid-50s, did not deny killing Mr Vella with a double-barrelled shotgun but claimed to have been substantially mentally impaired on the night of the incident.

Georgia Vella attended her mother's NSW Supreme Court sentence hearing to read out an emotional victim impact statement.

"Two years ago next month, my relatively normal life was turned upside down," she said.

The young woman, who gave evidence during the trial and was present at the Murrumbateman property on the night of the shooting, told the court how losing her father had left her "shocked and devastated".

"Every time I close my eyes to go to sleep or think about my father, the image of him after the shooting is etched in my mind," she said.

The crime scene established in August 2021 after Dale Vella (inset) shot her husband. Pictures by Elesa Kurtz / Facebook

"Initially, I was worried I could have done something but I know now there was nothing anyone could do. His death was instant."

Ms Vella said she didn't hold a traditional wedding as she "couldn't contemplate walking down the aisle without my father".

"My heart aches that my dad isn't here to enjoy my now two children," she said.

"This can never be undone because of the actions of my mother, I truly don't understand how she could have done this.

"I'm still angry. I'm angry that she appears to have only thought about herself."

The trial previously heard how Vella was "going to shoot myself but I've shot him" on the night in question and how the woman claimed to have been the target of years of emotional abuse.

Her daughter said on Wednesday that she still loved her mother.

Ms Vella also acknowledged her mother was dealing with a depressive disorder, as assessed by a forensic psychiatrist during the trial, at the time of the shooting, but said that "she still knew what she was doing".

Dale Vella, who was found guilty of murder in April. Picture Facebook

The court heard other victim impact statements from Mr Vella's friends and family.

David Borg, who was present on the night of the shooting and had been friends with the deceased man for over 40 years, said the incident had left him "alone, forgotten and angry".

"I will never have another friend like Mark," he said.

"I miss the laughs we had. If Mark counted you as a friend, he was a friend for life."

Addressing the man's murderer, Mr Borg said her actions had "changed and traumatised not only my life but my family's life and the life of your children".

Justice Helen Wilson thanked those who provided the court with victim impact statements.

"It takes a great deal of courage to make those very personal expressions of grief available to the court and I'm very grateful to have received them," she said.

The judge also told counsel she was still considering the question of Vella's mental impairment in her ultimate sentencing decision.

"I don't think there is any dispute that Mrs Vella was depressed," Justice Wilson said.

However, the judge questioned if that mental impairment went further than depression experienced by many people and if it could be considered as a contributing factor to her actions of "extreme violence".

"I struggle to see how it explains what happened this night," she said.

Vella is set to return to court on July 14 while the case awaits a report from Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network.

  • Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; MensLine 1300 789 978; beyondblue 1300 224 636; 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732.
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