MICK Staines: psychotic killer, tortured soul or time bomb? That isthe question investigators and friends are asking themselves in the aftermath ofthe Townsville love-triangle killings.There is no doubt about whathappened. But why?
Police brief read: Murder/suicide.
Location: Patrick St, Aitkenvale,Townsville, north Queensland.
Time: Sunday, November 19. About1.30am.
Victims: Two dead, one in a serious condition in hospital with bulletin skull and burns to 40 per cent of body.
Motive: Suspected lovetriangle/jilted lover.
Why?: No answer.
More than 300 residents outraged by the killings took to the city streets onWednesday, chanting "No more deaths, no more violence", after two were left deadand one in a serious condition in hospital following an apparentmurder-suicide.
It was an emotional outpouring never before seen in the north Queenslandcity.
"People are shocked," said Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney. "He (the killer) wasa moving pebble on top of the table and when he got to the edge, he took otherswith him."
But what is it that drives a person to such psychotic rage? What makessomeone so mad they want to shoot, kill and set fire to two other human beings –and then kill himself?
"If we knew what made the human mind tick over things like this we would beso much further ahead in the game than we are," said police regional crimeco-ordinator, Acting Detective Inspector Dave Miles. "But the end result isalways fairly catastrophic."
Townsville youth advocate Mick Staines killed his ex-girlfriend and shot andburnt her naked lover before turning the gun on himself early last Sundaymorning.
Lawyer Paul Gray told how Staines tried to kill him in cold blood on hisfirst date with the woman. "I was in bed having a cuddle when I looked up andsaw him standing at end of the bed," said the father of two. "He said to me:'Pleased to meet you.'
"And then he shot me in the head."
Staines, 46, a panel beater, had stormed into his former lover Claire Carey'sbedroom – armed with a sawn-off .22 rifle and a can of petrol – to find hernaked in bed with Gray.
He executed Carey, 44, a social worker; shooting her twice through the heart.He then doused both victims in petrol and set them on fire.
Gray, a Townsville lawyer and former Los Angeles advertising agency owner andnightclub operator, is recovering in a specialist burns unit in Brisbane aftersurgery to remove a bullet from behind his temple.
"I am very lucky to be alive," the 44-year-old said from his hospitalbed.
"Not many people have stared down the barrel of a loaded gun, been shot inthe head, set on fire, and survived."
His head swathed in bloodied bandages and with 40 per cent burns to his lowerbody, Gray said: "I thought I was dead.
"I saw him pull the trigger, and I saw the flash, and I turned my head andthe bullet hit me behind the temple.
"I must have lost consciousness.
"And then I stuck my head up and I saw him aiming the gun at me again and Isaid: 'Please don't kill me mate, I've got kids.'
"He said, 'Wait until you bastards see what is coming next' and that is whenhe walked out of the room and came back with petrol, splashing it around out ofa mower can."
Gray looked across at Carey only to discover she was dead.
"I saw blood gurgling out of her chest, her head was back on the pillow, andshe looked like a dead person.
"I thought, I can't die like this."
He went to jump out of the window to escape the inferno – but the killer waswaiting for him outside.
"He was downstairs on the ground pointing a gun at me and he said: 'Come onyou bastard, I'm waiting.'
"I begged him: 'Let me live. Let me live.' "
The killer then disappeared around the front of the house.
"I thought he might have been coming back into the house to finish me off. Iwas stark naked. I dropped out the window, jumped over the front fence and ranup the street. I was pretty sure he took another shot at me."
A trail of bloody footprints along a 120m section of the footpath offersgruesome insight into his desperate bid for freedom.
"I banged on the door of the first house with a light on.
"I was worried he might try to come back and get me. But once I was inside Ifelt safe."
Staines, a one-time state political candidate and high profile youth advocatewho was also facing child-stealing charges relating to a 2005 offence, wasscared off by the sound of the arriving sirens.
He drove to an ice factory in a nearby industrial estate, made some phonecalls, put the gun to his head, and killed himself.
Despite the terrifying ordeal, Gray holds no malice for the gunman.
"I feel sorry for him. Sorry that things got so bad for him that he acted outhis rage in such a way.
"I feel sorry for her (Carey) too. I am sad she is dead. I didn't know herthat well to feel too upset. It was our first night together."
But it is perhaps the phone message left with mutual friend and psychologistBob MacDonald immediately after the shooting that offers the best portrait ofinside the mind of a killer.
"He kept repeating: 'I'm very tired, I've done something terrible'," saidMacDonald, who knew both victims and has 30 years' experience as apsychologist.
"His voice was that of a very flat man who was about to finish himself.
"The only common denominator in this tragedy is the factthat both of these people struggled with the consequences of childhood sexualabuse.
"Both battled the chronic anxiety and depression that isfrequently the lot for survivors of sexual abuse. It's a tragic irony that whathad made them colleagues, was exactly what led to theirdeaths.
"Everyone that knew Michael is astonished that he wouldhave taken these actions.
"He was not the archetypal stalker or abuser but wasunder pressure of police charges, recovering from bankruptcy, and then he entersinto this relationship with Claire.
"They dance the dreadful dance of two people with ahistory of sexual abuse and he snaps and is pushed over the edge intoacting out his psychotic rage.
"It was just so out of character with his beliefs andpast behaviour. Afterwards he was obviously aware of what he had done and leftmessages with friends and relations, myself included. The message on my phonewas Michael just before he shot himself; pretty grim, hearing his confession ofremorse and despair. Selfishly I am glad the phone was off and I didn't have theopportunity to try and talk him out of his final, and probably necessary,destructive act.
"The message is: victims of child sexual abuse aredamaged for life, it gives them a crippling handicap. Victims of childhoodsexual abuse are more likely to have problems with the law, drugs, alcohol,and become victims and perpetrators of domestic violenceetc.
"Nothing excuses this act of selfish anger by Michael,but I do understand how it is possible. I don't like suicide and hate themurder-suicides. Families and friends will suffer, and the hapless third partywill have to survive his own trauma now."
Doctors expect Gray to make a full physicalrecovery