Truck driver Patrick Allen Boon has been convicted and sentenced to a total of 18.5 years in jail for using a hammer and a wrench to “savagely” murder his boss.
Boon pleaded guilty and was handed a split-sentence for the murder of Fred Tuffs. He must first serve a non-parole period of 13 years and 10 months. The parolable balance of his term is four years and eight months.
Judge Hulme described the beating that led to Tuffs’ death as an attack of “savagery and ferocity.” Referring to the victim impact statements by Tuffs’ family, the judge also spoke of the effect of the sudden and tragic loss and the “real personal impact the crime has had, and will continue to have, for a very long time.”
Background: victim and murderer
In June 2017, Boon, then 37 years old, and Tuffs, 57, were both employed by Boodles Concreting, working at the Cotton Seed Distributors site at Wee Waa, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Wee Waa is a small and remote town about 270 miles to the north-northwest of Sydney.
Tuffs was working as a site manager, and had been with the company for five years. Boon was a newcomer having only worked with Boodles for two months. He drove concrete mixer trucks for the company.
Early in the morning of Monday, June 12, 2017, Boon, told local police that people were trying to kill him. He also said that his ex-wife had been tied to the bull bar of a vehicle. Police contacted his ex-wife and discovered that Boon’s claims about her were not true.
Police noted Boon was “paranoid,” “hyperactive” and had rapid, disjointed and fragmented speech. Later investigations discovered that he had been erratic, paranoid, delusional and acting “out of character” over the weekend.
On Tuesday, June 13, Boon drove 286 miles to Wee Waa for work. He was seen talking to the victim outside a hotel at 5:30 a.m. that day. Witnesses said Boon had a bolt action rifle and Tuffs was trying to get Boon to give him the gun.
Boon was said to be mumbling something similar to “I have to find my missus” (‘Mrs.’ i.e. ‘wife’). He was also said to be “very disoriented” and unable to understand what was happening. Boon eventually gave Tuffs the gun, who disabled and hid it. Boon then wandered off to look for his wife, who he thought had somehow been dragged into the drains and under the road.
Later that morning, a local police officer approached the offender as he was standing over a manhole.
When the officer asked him what he was doing, Boon explained that he was looking for his wife and said: “I’ve been following her voice all over town this morning in the drains. I heard her screaming down the street because the new fella was dragging her.”
Murder of Fred Tuffs
At about 4:00 p.m. that afternoon, another truck driver returned to the work site and found the victim, Tuffs, lying on his side on the floor. Tuffs was breathing but unconscious and he had “catastrophic” injuries. The truck driver called for an ambulance. Tuffs was taken to a local hospital by paramedics but he tragically died the next day at 6:36 a.m.
A pathologist concluded that the cause of death was blunt force head trauma. His injuries were consistent with those inflicted by a hammer and a wrench.
The pathologist found complex skull fractures, bleeding into the tissues immediately surrounding the brain, bruising to the brain tissues, diffuse intracranial injuries and injuries to his hands.
On the day of the murder Boon was seen both at the site by the paramedics and also in the local area by other witnesses. He was still covered in blood when he was arrested at 6:00 p.m. A large hammer and a wrench were recovered from the crime scene.
Bizarre and nonsensical
Boon displayed several symptoms of psychosis. When being forensically examined, he believed there was a spider in the gloves he was wearing. He said a variety of “bizarre things,” had “concentration difficulties” and his answers to interview questions were “often non-responsive and nonsensical.” He later testified that, during his time in the police cell, he heard noises and voices. He also became convinced that “people were being cut up outside his cell.”
Over the course of the police interview, Boon said that he had gone to the worksite in the mid-morning where he encountered the victim.
Tuffs apparently said that Boon needed to get over his failed relationship with his ex-wife. Boon then became angry, grabbed a small sledgehammer “described as a handheld four pounder” and hit Tuffs about the head two or three times. He went out to get rid of the hammer and when he came back, he saw Tuffs trying to get up. So he grabbed a wrench and hit Tuffs about the head a few more times.
“Once I got started I thought f**k it, I didn’t think it would escalate that much,” Boon told police.
“I was trying not to bloody, but I didn’t intend to f**kin’ kill him, but, but if tension builds up and starts warring, sh*t’s got to break I suppose.”
In the following days he said his memory was patchy and he could not remember much of what had happened.
Drug and alcohol abuse impaired judgement
Blood samples revealed that Boon had a number of psychoactive drugs in his system. Police investigations later discovered a history of years of substance abuse including cannabis, alcohol and crystal methylamphetamine (“ice”). On the day of the murder he had also taken the opioid pain reliever oxycodone, which he said had sent him “on a spin-out.”
He was interviewed about his psychotic-like symptoms by a forensic psychiatrist. However, the psychiatrist concluded that Boon’s symptoms did not reach the threshold for a diagnosis of psychosis. She concluded that he had impaired reasoning and judgement owing to multi-substance abuse.
An intent to kill
In considering the offender’s state of mind during the attack, Judge Hulme of the New South Wales Supreme Court noted Boon’s “clearly irrational” behavior. But, the judge said, “being irrationally motivated does not mean that the attack upon Mr. Tuffs was not accompanied by an intention to kill.”
“In my view, beating the deceased so savagely with two blunt instruments, first with a hammer, and then in a second phase to continue the attack with a reasonably heavy wrench, with every one of the blows with those implements directed to the head of the deceased, bespeaks an intention to kill.”
After a period in jail, Boon was no longer using drugs. In a statement to the court, he accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed remorse.
“The sadness and grief that I have caused Fred’s family… will haunt me for the rest of my life. I had only known Fred for about two months. He was my boss but also a friend.
“The nightmares still wake me up every night. There are no words that will say how sorry I am for what I have done… I do not expect to get forgiveness from Fred’s family but I hope my sentence will give them justice.”