Gympie mum found dead with 105 bruises on her body was bashed and strangled to death, coroner finds


Kirra-Lea McLoughlin was found by paramedics at her property in Wolvi, near Gympie in Queensland, heavily bruised, unconscious and with a severe head injury in July 2014

Kirra-Lea McLoughlin was found by paramedics at her property in Wolvi, near Gympie in Queensland, heavily bruised, unconscious and with a severe head injury in July 2014

A coroner has found the boyfriend of a young mother likely bashed and strangled her to death – but charges have yet to be laid in her case.

Paramedics found Kirra-Lea McLoughlin, 27, with 105 bruises on her body, unconscious and with a severe head injury in her home near Gympie in south-east Queensland in 2014.

The mother-of-four was found brain dead on arrival before dying the next day of a traumatic brain injury. 

She was in a relationship with Paul McDonald, now, 39, at the time of her death. 

He had told first responders she had overdosed on antidepressants and couldn’t wake her, but doctors found no evidence of drug or alcohol overdose in her system.

A coroner has now found her de facto partner likely flew into a rage and bashed her after she told him ‘I don’t love you anymore’.

Deputy State Coroner Jane Bentley, who handed down her findings in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, found Ms McLoughlin had died from swelling on her brain.

Ms Bentley found Mr McDonald likely choked his partner, hit her head against the floor and struck her with a baseball bat, ABC News reported. 

On the way to hospital, Ms McLoughlin's brain was so swollen that it had extended down into her spinal cord. Upon arrival, she was brain dead and later died.

On the way to hospital, Ms McLoughlin's brain was so swollen that it had extended down into her spinal cord. Upon arrival, she was brain dead and later died.

On the way to hospital, Ms McLoughlin’s brain was so swollen that it had extended down into her spinal cord. Upon arrival, she was brain dead and later died. 

The coroner’s report found the 39-year-old did not call for help until the afternoon after Ms McLoughlin likely suffered the fatal injuries at 11.30pm on July 16, 2014.

‘I find that choking is the most likely mechanism by which her death was caused,’ she wrote. 

‘I find that Mr McDonald has a propensity to inflict severe physical violence on his partners and is a habitual perpetrator of severe and domestic abuse, including coercive control of his partners.’ 

No-one has yet been charged and the coroner did not refer the findings of the inquest to homicide detectives.

Ms Bentley did say though a police investigation into the death was ongoing.  

The inquest had previously heard how on the night of Ms McLoughlin’s death neighbours had heard chilling screams from inside the home. 

On the way to hospital, Ms McLoughlin’s brain was so swollen that it had extended down into her spinal cord. 

She was flown to Gold Coast University Hospital where her mother Alison was forced to say her goodbyes to her lifeless daughter.

Suspicions surrounding her cause of death were first raised when doctors didn't find any signs of an overdose or any alcohol in her system.  A coroner has now found her de facto partner likely flew into a rage and bashed her after she told him 'I don't love you anymore

Suspicions surrounding her cause of death were first raised when doctors didn't find any signs of an overdose or any alcohol in her system.  A coroner has now found her de facto partner likely flew into a rage and bashed her after she told him 'I don't love you anymore

Suspicions surrounding her cause of death were first raised when doctors didn’t find any signs of an overdose or any alcohol in her system.  A coroner has now found her de facto partner likely flew into a rage and bashed her after she told him ‘I don’t love you anymore

‘The doctor just looked at me and she said ‘there’s nothing, there’s zero brain activity,’ the tearful mother told Australian Story in September. 

‘She said that the X-ray looked like as if it was shaken baby syndrome. Considering the marks on her face… it seems to me that she was bashed into the ground continuously.’   

On the third day of the inquest, a former girlfriend of Ms McLoughlin’s partner told the court he had confessed to hurting her on the night she died. 

‘He said he was in a violent rage and shaking her and her head was banging on the floor or wall,’ the woman said. 

Pictured: Ms McLoughlin. Neighbours had heard chilling screams coming from inside the home

Pictured: Ms McLoughlin. Neighbours had heard chilling screams coming from inside the home

Pictured: Ms McLoughlin. Neighbours had heard chilling screams coming from inside the home 

‘But he said they sorted it out, everything was fine and they went to bed … said he woke up early that morning, noticed she’d urinated on herself and wasn’t able to wake her up.

‘He said he freaked out, rung somebody and then rang the ambulance.’

The woman told the court the man ‘needed to get it off his chest’ when confessing.   

The inquest also heard from Ms McLoughlin’s boyfriend’s mother, who claimed her son was violent towards the young mum.  

‘If you’re trying to point out domestic violence, in three cases they were all as bad each other, if one was hitting, he was hitting back,’ she said.

Mr Boyce then asked if she was suggesting her son only ‘gave as good as he got?’

‘They were unpredictable people, my son included,’ the woman said. ‘I’ve known both have been violent.’ 

Damo (left), Ms McLoughlin's neighbour, remembers hearing 'blood curdling' screams coming from her house the night before she was found unconscious

Damo (left), Ms McLoughlin's neighbour, remembers hearing 'blood curdling' screams coming from her house the night before she was found unconscious

Damo (left), Ms McLoughlin’s neighbour, remembers hearing ‘blood curdling’ screams coming from her house the night before she was found unconscious  

Neighbours of Ms McLoughlin told the inquest they heard harrowing screams coming from the Wolvi property before she died. 

Joan Benson said she often heard loud arguments coming from the house, but said the fight on the night before the young mother was found unconscious was ‘very, very overheated’. 

Alison said she hoped the inquest will lead to a criminal conviction.

‘I want changes to be made because this happens every day. If we can save one woman from ending up like Kirra did, then I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something,’ she said.

‘If she didn’t achieve something in life, well, maybe she’s going to achieve it in death.’  



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