Angry Anderson has told the man who killed his youngest child that he feels “no longer whole” and the lives of those who loved his son Liam will never be the same.
Mr Anderson, voice quivering and hands shaking, delivered an emotional victim impact statement in the Supreme Court on Tuesday as he described his profound grief at losing his “baby boy” Liam.
The Rose Tattoo singer said his son’s “light” had been snuffed out by the “darkness” lurking within his best friend Matthew Flame, who horrifically bashed him to death while in a drug-fuelled hallucination in 2018.
“On that Sunday morning, Liam’s heart was full of light. A light that came from deep within him, a light that was Liam,” he told Flame’s sentence hearing.
“That light was snuffed out by darkness that came from deep within his assailant. Drugs did not produce that darkness but only set it free. And that darkness is there still.”
Flame bowed his head in the dock during the hearing, as Liam was described as being the life of the party, a gentle joker who was full of love and passionate about his friends and music.
Flame was last month found guilty of the 26-year-old’s brutal manslaughter after a jury ruled he was not guilty of murder.
The 22-year-old had pleaded not guilty to the higher charge and claimed he was suffering from a psychosis sparked by an undiagnosed schizophrenia when he attacked his friend on Sydney’s northern beaches in the early hours of November 4, 2018, which the jury accepted.
During the trial the court heard a hallucinating Flame, then 20, believed his mate was a “demon” who wanted to kill him when he set upon Liam Anderson and beat him to a pulp in a quiet suburban park.
Flame had taken up to 10 MDMA pills, smoked cannabis and downed about a dozen drinks over a night of partying at a hip-hop event at the Burdekin Hotel in the CBD with Liam before they returned to a friend’s house in Queenscliff.
After Flame, a gym devotee and apprentice plumber, began to hallucinate and ventured away from their friends Liam followed and told him, “I’m not going to leave you”.
But the aspiring rapper’s kindness cost him his life.
His tearful father spoke eloquently when reading his statement before the court on Tuesday, saying he, Liam’s three siblings and their mother were forever “bound in grief”.
“Sadness now is our constant companion, such is our life now,” he said.
The 73-year-old said he had been deprived of the everyday moments with his youngest child that all parents took for granted, such as telling him to take out the bins or ask what he wanted for breakfast.
Nor would he be able to see the joy in his son’s eyes at the birth of his first child.
The manner of Liam’s death will “haunt me for the rest of my days”, he said, as will the phone call he received from his eldest son Galen informing him “something terrible has happened”.
“I see the sadness in (my family’s) eyes when we are all together knowing one of us will always be missing,” he said of his remaining children.
“I have a hole in my heart. I’m no longer whole. My youngest and baby boy is gone, and my life will never be as it was.”
Liam’s mother Lindy Anderson spoke directly to Flame when she appeared via video link on Tuesday.
It came a month after she embraced him on the delivery of the jury’s verdict.
She said that she had chosen to forgive him for “selfish reasons”.
“I did it for me. Choosing to forgive doesn’t mean I accept any of your wrongdoing, because no one has the right to end someone’s life,” she said.
“Forgiveness for me as Liam’s mother is to find peace in life.
“I will not hold on to the poison which will only eat me away and make me sick. I will not let you, Matthew, or anyone else destroy my inner peace.”
Sister Roxanne Anderson said Liam was her “best mate” and that she regularly watched his YouTube videos and listened to his songs because she feared forgetting his voice.
“Liam was kind and gentle. He was a lover not a fighter. He was funny and free spirited and people were drawn to his energy,” she said.
“The last thing he did before he died really showed you his character. His best quality was what cost him his life.”
Flame was supported in court by his own family and at one point blew a kiss towards the gallery.
His barrister John Stratton SC said Liam’s death was “from any point of view a very tragic case”, including for Flame who “killed someone who was his best friend”.
Mr Stratton said his client was at the time unaware of his “vulnerability” to schizophrenia, which was “triggered” by drug use that was “not out of the range” of his peers.
The jury’s verdict was inextricably linked to Flame’s mental state, the barrister argued.
Crown prosecutor Gareth Christofi said Flame’s psychosis was bought on by his drug use, and argued his mental illness did not cause the attack.
In challenging that submission Justice Robert Button used an analogy of the drugs as a “seed” being planted into the “soil” of Flame’s vulnerable mind.
“The planting of the seed caused the tree to grow, which is the schizophrenia,” he said. “But the tree would never have grown if it was thrown on the concrete.”
Regardless, the result was “catastrophic”, Mr Button said.
Flame will be sentenced on December 16.