July 15, 2024

A man who killed his girlfriend and dumped her body in remote Victorian bushland “got what he deserved” after a jury found him guilty of murder, the victim’s family says.

Toby Loughnane, 44, claimed Maryam Hamka died of a drug overdose in the early hours of April 11, 2021, and his only crime was not calling an ambulance.

But a Supreme Court jury on Friday rejected his story, finding him guilty of murdering the 36-year-old woman at his Brighton home in Melbourne’s southeast.

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He faces up to life in prison for the killing.

Loughnane had admitted disposing of Hamka’s body in a shallow grave at Cape Schanck, south-east of Melbourne, on April 14.

He led investigators to her remains in August 2023.

After the verdict was handed down on Friday, Hamka’s family said they were relieved the jurors made the right decision.

“He’s a murderer and he got what he deserved,” her brother Hassan Hamka told reporters outside court.

Hamka’s sister Amel said the past three years had been a long and mentally challenging process for the family.

“We’re just happy that we’ve gotten justice for my sister,” she said.

The family wanted Hamka to be remembered as a beautiful person who was loved by many.

“She didn’t deserve it, she didn’t deserve it at all – no one does,” Hassan said.

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At the start of the trial, Loughnane wanted to plead guilty to a lesser charge of negligent manslaughter but his offer was rejected by prosecutors.

Prosecutor Kristie Churchill told the jury Loughnane hated Hamka and he had been controlling, abusive and violent towards her in the lead-up to her death.

She said it was not possible Hamka died of a drug overdose, as Loughnane fatally assaulted her with murderous intent.

Loughnane’s lawyer, Daniel Sala, conceded his client acted reprehensibly towards Hamka in the months before her death and he disposed of her body in bushland and did not tell investigators until years later.

But Sala said Loughnane’s only crime was breaching a duty of care by not calling an ambulance on April 11 and he was a heavy drug user who was trying to distance himself from her manslaughter.

The jury began deliberating on Wednesday afternoon, taking less than two days to reach its guilty verdict on Friday morning.

Loughnane was taken back to jail and will face a pre-sentence hearing in October.

Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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