Adelaide father tried to kill girl ‘out of spite’ towards his wife, court hears

An Adelaide father who tried to kill his young daughter “out of spite” and “vindictiveness” towards his wife hopes to one day “regain” his child’s trust, a court has heard.

WARNING: This story contains details that may cause distress to some readers.

Shaun Preston Mate, 45, pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of his then-three-year-old days before his Supreme Court trial was due to begin earlier this year.

Police officers found Mate and his daughter unresponsive and suffering from hypoxia at their Eden Hills home in July 2020.

The young girl spent five days in hospital — mostly in intensive care — after being exposed to a toxic gas and took weeks to recover from the injuries.

The court previously heard Mate’s marriage was “falling apart” in the lead-up to the attempted murder and he had become verbally and physically abusive.

Offending was planned, prosecutors say

In sentencing submissions on Friday, prosecutors told the court the “premeditated” offending had been an act of “spite.”

“This was not a sudden, heat of the moment offence,” prosecutor Kos Lesses said.

Mr Lesses said when police attended Flinders Medical Center to arrest Mate once he had regained consciousness, he asked unprompted: “So, she didn’t die then?”

“That comment has relevance in refuting [a previous] suggestion that he did not have recall of the offense incident.

“This was planned, premeditated, with spite and an element of vindictiveness.

“By all accounts, [the girl] was lucky to have survived.”

Police at the house in Eden Hills where the alleged attempted murder took place in 2020.(ABC News: Natarsha Kallios)

Mate regretted his actions

Defense lawyer Marie Shaw told the court her client had been “grateful and relieved” that his daughter had not suffered long-term damage.

“My client is profoundly remorseful,” Ms Shaw told the court.

Through a statement read aloud by his lawyer, Mate said he “deeply regretted” his “abhorrent” actions and had been “grateful and relieved” she did not suffer long-term damage.

He said he was “acutely aware of the harm” he had caused and was “profoundly sorry”.

The court heard he hoped to one day regain the trust of his daughter, whom “he loved.”

“The punishment of having to live with what he tried to do to his daughter… will never leave him.”

Two police officers stand next to each other in front of the front door of a house
Police at the Eden Hills house in 2020 after Mate and his daughter were found unconscious.(abcnews)

Auxiliary Justice Geraldine Davison did not allow Mate’s father to read a statement to the court in support of his son, but said she would take it, and statements from others, into account in sentencing.

The court heard medical experts agreed Mate had been suffering from a major depressive disorder at the time of the offending.

But Justice Davison questioned the connection between Mate’s mental illness, and his decision to attempt to kill his daughter.

The charge of attempted murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Mate will be sentenced in August.

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