Chilling plan after woman killed by ex
A woman murdered by her on-off boyfriend in a fit of jealous rage has been described as a “dynamic, cheerful” person by her devastated family, with her killer learning his fate.
James Hachem, 37, will spend 24 years behind bars after being sentenced at Sydney Supreme Court for the murder of Samah Baker on Friday.
The 30-year-old was reported missing on January 5, 2019 after a friend dropped her off at her Parramatta home the previous day.
Judge Robertson Wright called Ms Baker’s death a “great human and personal tragedy”, stating she was a ”dynamic, cheerful presence in her family’s life”.
“Ms Baker was a captivating person who made those around her feel whole,” he said.
“Her family have been left a heartbroken and destroyed trio.”
The court heard Hachem murdered his former partner in a fit of jealousy after seeing Ms Baker kissing another man as he lay in wait outside her apartment late at night.
Hachem lured Ms Baker from her apartment by lying about his parents being in a car accident, before murdering her somewhere in the vicinity of the Parramatta complex.
The unemployed man stuffed the 30-year-old’s body into the boot of his mother’s car, where it remained while he went to McDonald’s and attended a job interview the following day.
Over the following days, Hachem made multiple shopping trips to fill a “grocery list” of items including gloves, shovels and plastic bags to be used to dispose of Ms Baker’s body.
Pings from his phone revealed he travelled to Breadalbane, near Goulburn, for about three hours, where police suspect he dumped the body in neighbouring bushland areas.
Hachem went so far as to send texts to Ms Baker’s number after her death in an effort to conceal his role in the end of her life, the court heard.
He wrote: “Last night was so good, slept like a baby.”
“You must be with your boyfriend and you can’t text. All good,” he wrote.
Hachem also removed the carpet from the floor, seats and boot of the car.
A piece of carpet found in Hachem’s room contained specks of Ms Baker’s blood.
The TAFE worker’s body has never been recovered, despite widespread searches by police.
During sentencing, Justice Wright described in depth Hashem and Ms Baker’s 15-year-long relationship, including multiple instances of violence, jealousy and financial manipulation.
The campaign of domestic violence began in October, 2015 while the pair were staying at a hotel in Macquarie Park, where Ms Baker texted a friend that she “couldn’t believe he hit me”.
In texts to Ms Baker the following day, Hacham claimed he didn’t know he was capable of what he did, and that “it was like something switched in my head”.
The pair lived together for a period of time which continued to be marred by flashes of violence by Hachem, before Ms Baker decided to relocate to Brisbane in 2017.
Nonetheless, Hachem flew from Sydney to visit Ms Baker on multiple occasions.
While staying at a hotel in Surfer’s Paradise, Ms Baker phoned Triple-000 in the middle of the night, telling officers that “it was really bad, he tried to kill me”.
On two occasions, officers were told by Ms Baker that she did not want to involve police. Hachem also told officers he would return to Sydney, and would “never see her again”.
In her diary, Ms Baker expressed her desire to escape from Hachem.
“I hate James, but I hate myself even more,” she wrote.
“What’s wrong with me? Why am I always asking for help.”
Justice Wright said Hachem became frustrated that he had paid for the pair to stay together in hotels and had loaned Ms Baker money while she was seeing another man.
The court heard that in the years prior to Ms Baker’s death, Hachem repeatedly called Ms Baker a “whore”, after he loaned her money for food, rent and other expenses.
“When it appeared Ms Baker might have found another man, Hachem persisted in trying to contact her and organising to stay at hotels, providing services and monitoring where she was,” Justice Wright said.
“He tried to keep Ms Baker’s attention on himself, even when she tried to end their relationship.”
The court previously heard Hachem had been subject to domestic violence as a child.
Doubt was cast on the extent of those claims during multiple court proceedings.
Justice Wright also stated he doubted evidence given by Hachem to a clinical psychologist.
The court also heard Hacham was regularly seeing sex workers for a number of years.
Hachem has persistently denied any connection with Ms Baker’s death.
He will be eligible for parole from 2037.