Jail for life over stabbing murder of young mother

A man who stabbed a young mother to death in a frenzied, random attack as she slept on the floor of her friend's house has been jailed for life. 

The murder of 23-year-old Queensland woman Gabrielle Marshall was described by Tasmania Supreme Court Justice Tamara Jago as one of the worst cases. 

Ms Marshall had moved to the island state town of Ulverstone two weeks before being stabbed 17 times by Colin William Drake in June 2021. 

She intended to make a fresh start after leaving a bad relationship and work towards living with her then-six-year-old daughter. 

Drake, who lived about 200m down the road in assisted accommodation, broke a supervision order when he snuck out in the early hours of the morning with two knives.

Ms Marshall's friend awoke to screaming and bangs coming from the living room. 

She armed herself with a knife and confronted Drake whose face was covered in blood.

Justice Jago said Drake presented a lifelong danger to the community and his capacity for rehabilitation was limited by his intellectual disability and personality traits.

She said Drake showed a "degree of cunning" after the murder and lied to his carers and police afterward.

Drake, who was arrested the next day at the accommodation, said he broke a knife trying to fix a cupboard and the blade could not be retrieved because it was in too many pieces. 

The blade was found under Ms Marshall's body.

Justice Jago said it was not possible to determine Drake's motive. 

She said he might have been driven by a fixation on obtaining cigarettes or sexual desire and might have picked the house because he knew women lived there. 

"Whatever (the motivation) the end result was extreme violence upon a vulnerable victim," Justice Jago said. 

"(The attack was) frenzied and persistent. 

"It must have been terrifying for Ms Marshall."

Drake, 37, who pleaded guilty in September, was jailed for the term of his natural life and will not be eligible for parole until 2041.

Tasmania's parole board will decide if Drake is safe to be released.

A mental health report in June 2021 noted Drake engaged poorly with rules, had assaulted a carer and had dangerous implements in his room. 

The report noted there were not sufficient resources to manage him in the community. 

Drake, who was charged with aggravated burglary and arson in 2012, had a childhood of neglect and deprivation, Justice Jago said. 

Justice Jago said the murder had caused immense pain to Ms Marshall's family.

In November, Ms Marshall's parents told the court she felt the safest she had been in Tasmania and would call every night.

"Just like that she was gone," her mother said. 

"You never think anything like this would happen to your family."

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store