A man will spend at least 26 years behind bars for the murder of a shop assistant in Adelaide after a disposable coffee cup linked him to the crime decades later.
- Suzanne Poll was stabbed to death while working alone in a stationery store in 1993
- Matthew Donald Tilley was charged with his 2019 murder and found guilty in 2021
- Today, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison
Suzanne Poll, 36, was stabbed to death in a “cruel way” while working alone in a stationery store in Salisbury, in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, in April 1993.
It was Mrs Poll’s husband, Darryl, who found his wife’s body in the shop after she failed to return home from work.
She had been stabbed with a “significant amount of force” at least 40 times with a large knife.
In 2019, Matthew Donald Tilley, 49, was charged with Ms Poll’s murder and extradited to Adelaide after detectives found out he had a DNA match for blood splatter at the crime scene.
A technological breakthrough two years earlier found a family connection to Tilley’s brother and the blood splatter.
Detectives then traveled to Daylesford in western Victoria to obtain a DNA sample from Tilley, who tossed a disposable coffee cup into a rubbish bin on the street, which was picked up and brought back to southern Australia for analysis.
The DNA showed that Tilley was “100 billion times” more likely to be the matching person than any other human being, prosecutor Carmen Matteo told the jury during the trial.
A jury found Tilley guilty of Ms Poll’s murder last December, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
On Wednesday, Judge David Peek set a non-parole period of 26 years and found that Tilley – who claims he is innocent – intended to “kill Mrs Poll instead of just inflicting serious bodily harm on her”.
“There is nothing to suggest, let alone evidence, that since you committed that crime, you have somehow forgotten it or excluded it from your consciousness at some point in the last 29 years,” he said. .
“You have not shown any remorse, you fled the scene and have been successful in avoiding police detection for many years.
“You continue even now to deny your guilt falsely, and you refuse to give any explanation as to how the conduct arose.
“The killing of a female shop assistant alone on duty at night followed by a successful escape and consequent lack of discovery inevitably led to great publicity in southern Australia and concern and fear in the community.
“Not least in the minds of women who perform tasks similar to those performed by Mrs. Poll.”
Prosecutors had told the jury that Ms. Poll was murdered in what is believed to be an alleged robbery of the store, but Justice Peek did not find that to be the case.
At the time of the murder, Tilley was 20 years old and his mother lived only streets away from the crime scene.
The court heard he was working at a gas station around the time, but records were no longer available to determine if he was working the night Mrs. Poll was murdered.
For nearly 30 years, Mrs. Poll’s husband and two children had struggled to understand who killed their “heart and soul” and why, to tell the Supreme Court that Tilley would forever be “a monster.”
Tilley maintains her innocence and anchors her verdict.
Outside court, Ms. Poll’s sister Barbara Taylor said she was happy with the verdict.
“Twenty-six years, so long, we managed without Suzy before he was captured,” she said.
“… We can now move on and his family can go through 26 years of asking why,” she said.
Mrs. Taylor described her sister as a caring person and a “wonderful mother, wife, sister.”