Teen admits murdering Brisbane mum during home invasion

Cheryl Goodenough |

Lee Lovell (left) was treated for a knife wound in the home invasion that claimed his wife’s life.
Lee Lovell (left) was treated for a knife wound in the home invasion that claimed his wife’s life.

A teenager has admitted murdering a Queensland woman and assaulting her husband during a Boxing Day home invasion, a crime that led to a law change in the state.

The now 18-year-old and another teen were charged after Emma Lovell was fatally stabbed in her home north of Brisbane in 2022.

Police alleged the two boys, then 17 years old, broke into a North Lakes house north of Brisbane and attacked Mrs Lovell and her husband Lee when they were confronted about 11.30pm.

Lee Lovell leaves the Supreme Court of Queensland in Brisbane
Lee Lovell was in court to hear a teenager plead guilty to his wife’s murder. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The mother-of-two died after suffering stab wounds to the chest while Mr Lovell was treated in hospital for a knife wound.

Her death prompted widespread community outrage and was one of several high-profile crimes that resulted in Queensland MPs passing controversial youth justice laws.

During a brief arraignment the 18-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday to four charges including one of murder, while Mr Lovell sat in the public gallery.

A number of conferences had been held with the teen to ensure he understood the evidence, defence barrister Scott Lynch said.

“There’s concerns about his intellect and that’s why there has been a good amount of time spent with him,” Mr Lynch said.

At Justice Peter Callaghan’s request, an explanation of each count was read as the teen responded to the charges.

(L-R) Lee Lovell, Liz Jones, Judy Lindsay and Michelle Liddle
Mr Lovell (left) departed from the court without commenting to media. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The 18-year-old was carrying a knife when he went onto the property with the other teen to steal.

Shortly after he entered the house he ran out before stabbing Mrs Lovell in the chest, killing her, the court was told.

The charge of malicious act with intent related to the teen stabbing her husband in the back outside the house, because Lee Lovell was trying to stop him leaving.

Regarding an assault occasioning bodily harm in company charge, the court heard: “This is the time you that you kicked the same man to the face whilst he was on the ground, causing bruising.”

Mr Lovell left the court without commenting to media.

A pre-sentence report has been ordered, with the teen remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing listed in the same court on May 3.

Vigil for Emma Lovell (file image)
Following Mrs Lovell’s death, more than 150,000 signed a petition calling for law reform. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

The other teen is yet to enter a plea.

Following Mrs Lovell’s death, more than 150,000 people signed a petition calling for reform of Queensland youth justice laws.

By last March the state parliament had passed new laws.

The government was responding to address the often violent, frightening and dangerous offending by a handful of serious repeat offenders, Police Minister Mark Ryan said at the time.

Human rights watchdogs, legal groups, social service providers, charities and advocates condemned the bill saying it would target mostly Indigenous children who are over-represented in the justice system.