National

Vic farmer jailed for lover’s ute killing

By AAP Newswire

A look of horror crossed Colin Snooks' face when he saw his ex-partner driving toward him in a fit of "incandescent rage" on her rural Victorian driveway.

His lover of less than two years Janice Bufton, 68, was driving his ute after pinching his keys, furious he was leaving her and "heading north".

The 70-year-old tried to move out of the way after his friend Benjamin Weston shouted out a warning, but he was hit by the bonnet then crushed beneath the Holden Rodeo's wheels.

Mr Snooks had been on the phone to triple zero before he was struck. The impact threw his mobile from his hand, but it continued to record some of the aftermath.

"Mr Weston yelled out a warning to Mr Snooks, who turned around with a look of horror on his face," Supreme Court Justice Andrew Tinney said while sentencing Bufton to minimum of 18 years jail on Friday.

As Mr Snooks lay unconscious, Mr Weston rushed over and was recorded yelling: "you stupid bitch, you've killed him" and "this is f***in murder".

Paramedics tried to save Mr Snooks, but he died quickly - his injuries leaving him unable to breathe and suffering damaged organs, crushed muscles and fractures throughout his body.

Bufton told police his death wasn't her fault, she'd driven at a safe speed and was trying not to hit Mr Snooks and Mr Weston.

A Horsham jury in May didn't believe her after hearing about the couple's "hot-and-cold" relationship, convicting her of murder.

They agreed with prosecutors Bufton was jealous of Mr Snook's contact with his estranged wife and was prone to controlling behaviour as their romance broke down.

On the day of his death in October 2017, Mr Snooks had visited Bufton at her Fyans Creek property to pick up his caravan.

But "a swelling of murderous rage" built up within Bufton and she grabbed his ute keys through an open car window, leaving Mr Snooks and Mr Weston to walk down her driveway.

"He was walking away from you and presented no threat of any sort, other than perhaps to your pride," Justice Tinney said.

"You allowed your extreme and quite unjustified state of anger to well up and move you to a shocking and senseless crime."

Bufton was jailed for 24 years, will be eligible for parole after she serves 18 years, and has already served nearly two years of that jail term in pre-sentence detention.