Digby killer set to appeal lengthy jail term

Albion Park Rail woman Lauren Mae Batcheldor and Richard James Walsh of Dapto will be in their 50s when they again have the opportunity to taste freedom.
Nanjing Night Net

Murder victim Matthew Digby

The pair were yesterday handed hefty jail terms in the NSW Supreme Court sitting in Wollongong after a jury had earlier found them guilty of kidnapping and murdering 35-year-old Matthew Digby.

Batcheldor, 33, shook her head as she was sentenced to 24 years behind bars with a non-parole period of 18 years.

She will be eligible for parole in October, 2029, at the age of 51.

As she was led back down the cells one of her supporters called out “We love you darling”.

Defence lawyer William Whitby said Batcheldor would appeal her sentence.

“Her case has always been that she did not kidnap Matthew Digby and that she had no intent or knowledge that he would be harmed in any way,” he said.

“She is determined to clear her name.”

Walsh gave away little as Justice Geoffrey Bellew read his sentence to the court, jailing the 34-year-old for 28 years.

He will serve a minimum 21 years behind bars and will be 55 when he is eligible for parole in 2031.

Mr Digby’s violent death stemmed from Batcheldor’s discovery that he had hocked a gold chain stolen from her home in early January 2010.

After an intimidating meeting at his home and a series of phone calls, the pair arranged to speak to Mr Digby at Beaton Park, where he was detained.

Walsh drove him to an undisclosed address and during an altercation in the garage Mr Digby was killed.

His body was found chained to the front passenger seat of a burnt-out car at Mount Murray on January 25.

During sentencing yesterday Justice Bellew expressed his condolences to Mr Digby’s family.

“One can only imagine the fear by which the deceased would have been beset in the final hours of his life,” he said.

He said he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Walsh had deliberately strangled Mr Digby with a dog chain, as the Crown had alleged.

Justice Bellew said he also rejected Walsh’s claim Mr Digby had stabbed him with a screwdriver, but accepted that “the deceased died in the course of being detained, and it was the offender’s deliberate act which caused his death”.

The chain of events leading to Mr Digby’s death began with the break-in at Batcheldor’s home, which could simply have been reported to police, Justice Bellew told the court.

“The end result serves as a stark reminder what can occur when people inappropriately choose to take the law into their own hands,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.