The daughters of a Wellington man have emotionally confronted the "gutless coward" who killed their father.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Aaron Hegedus, 33, appeared via video link at the Dubbo District Court on Friday, November 10, where judge Karen Robinson deliberated on his sentence for the death of Frank Smith, 48.
Hegedus, appeared unmoved as Mr Smith's step-daughter Nycole Robins described to the court the impact the loss of a "loving and caring man" had on the family and community.
"Frank always helped us kids throughout our life when our father weren't around," she said.
"The 27th of April 2020 is the day my little sister's world was turned upside down ... the fear I could hear in my baby sister's voice is something that sticks with me day in, day out... Frank's time was not up, it weren't his time to go."
Ms Robins said no amount of jail time would bring back what Wellington has lost.
"You're a gutless coward," she said, turning to directly address Hegedus on the screen.
"No matter the outcome, no amount of time you spend in jail will ever be good enough, we have a life sentence."
Hegedus was initially charged with murder after a 19-month investigation into the death of the much-loved local handyman on April 27, 2020. The death sent shockwaves through the Wellington community.
However, in 2023, the charges were downgraded to manslaughter when Hegedus agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge.
Witnesses recall seeing Mr Smith, 48, stumbling into a front yard on Thornton Street in Wellington with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was driven to Wellington Hospital by a neighbour but could not be revived and died later that night.
Following an extensive investigation and numerous appeals, detectives recovered a .22 Ruger rifle which was ballistically linked to the death of Mr Smith and, on October 27, 2021, Hegedus was arrested outside a KFC in Wellington.
The court heard that, at sometime between 9:30am and 9:45am on the morning of Mr Smith's death, Hegedus fired a shot on Reid Street during a drug deal which hit Mr Smith.
With the help of her brother, Mr Smith's daughter Linda Rose Morris emotionally told the court it was hard to explain to her five-year-old what happened to her grandfather.
She said her father was a "very well respected" man who knew absolutely everyone in town.
"The community knew my father to be loud but also knew how harmless he was, he was just a big gentle giant," she said.
"You robbed the community of such a kind, helpful man who was always willing to help our elderly.
"When you killed my father all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and die... I am constantly thinking of how scared he was in that horrible situation."
She said it was "cowardly" for Hegedus not to face the court and Mr Smith's family in-person.
"How do you sleep at night knowing you took someone's life? There have been 18 court dates and you have never stepped foot in the courtroom to face me," she said.
Justice Karen Robinson will hand down her sentence at the Dubbo District Court on Friday, December 15 at 9:30am.
Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.