A 33-year-old man with a history of abusing his 31-year-old girlfriend admitted to police that he murdered her but wasn’t initially believed. Shea Sturt, from Melbourne, Australia, walked into a police station after killing Caitlin O’Brien to confess, but it wasn’t until police actually broke down the door of O’Brien’s residence and found her lifeless body that they realized he was serious.
- Shea Sturt and Caitlin O’Brien’s relationship was plagued with abuse. While the couple met as teenagers, it was anything but a peaceful relationship. O’Brien, a nurse, would regularly show up at work covered in bruises, and she often reported him to police only to eventually be manipulated into recanting her claims. The accusations against Sturt went all the way back to 2008 and ultimately culminated in her murder.
- Sturt struggled with mental health problems. It was in 2010 that O’Brien first tried to cut ties with Shea Sturt, believing that he had severe psychological problems and required serious help. He was held on psychiatric holds on several occasions and was eventually diagnosed with a schizophrenia-type disorder in which he was aware after episodes that he had been suffering from paranoid delusions. However, that did nothing to stem his violence towards Caitlin. He even admitted to a friend, “I fully admit that I was predatory towards Caitlin. It was the core of our relationship.”
- He had threatened to kill her previously. O’Brien visited her doctors more than 30 times due to injuries inflicted on her by Sturt and even told a GP at one point that he had threatened to “kill her before himself.” However, the terrible cycle of abuse continued as she felt bad that he was financially dependent on her due to being unable to work because of his mental health issues, so she found it increasingly difficult to fully cut him off.
- Caitlin had even more serious matters to deal with. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo surgery in May 2019 to have it removed. She was at home recovering and told family and friends that Sturt was being incredibly helpful, doing the chores and helping with the cooking. However, roughly a month after her surgery, things went downhill rapidly.
- Shea Sturt had a terrible meltdown. He told O’Brien that he believed the neighbors were worshipping Satan and that she herself was a devil. His behavior became so worrisome that she alerted police and he was taken to the hospital where she worked and detained under the Mental Health Act. It was during this stay that she believed she could finally make a clean break, but Sturt promised her via text that he would never hurt her.
- Sadly, O’Brien was unable to escape. Somehow, Sturt managed to convince hospital staff that he was fit to leave and he soon returned home, where he held her down on the bed. She tried to run and hid in the bathroom with a pair of scissors but he overpowered her and stabbed her with them repeatedly. He then held her down on the bed and smothered her with the pillow and, since he was unsure if she was truly dead, he tied a pair of pants around her neck to strangle her with.
- He pleaded guilty to murder and will spend 22 years behind bars. After being sentenced in Victoria’s Supreme Court, it was revealed that Sturt will have to serve a minimum of 16 years before being eligible for parole. Frankly, Shea Sturt a dangerous man and should never see the light of day again. A wonderful young woman’s life was tragically cut short by an abuser and he should not be given the opportunity to build his own life now.