10 July 2023

Fatal stabbing on remote road by Samuel Campbell took life of man who lived off-grid

| Albert McKnight
police car siren

Samuel Albert Campbell admitted killing Nicholas Robertson and stabbing another man in 2021. Photo: Julia Gomina.

A man stabbed to death on a remote road outside Cooma had started to get his life back on track when he had it all taken away from him, his best friend has told a court.

It was in the early hours of 15 February, 2021, and Samuel Albert Campbell was in the back seat of a car when he used a knife to begin stabbing his two friends who were in the vehicle with him, the NSW Supreme Court heard on Monday (10 July).

Nicholas Robertson was repeatedly attacked with the 15 cm blade. While the 38-year-old got out of the car to try to escape, Campbell followed and continued to stab him.

“The terror that the deceased must have felt, being aware of his impending death,” prosecutor Kate Ratcliffe said.

Mr Robertson was left with 15 stab wounds, including three in his lung, and died at the Cooma Hospital later that morning.

The driver of the car, a man who Campbell had been living with, was also stabbed through the arm.

“I get confused because both Nicko and Sam were my best friends and I lost them both that night,” the driver wrote in a statement read to the courtroom.

“For someone so close to me, I don’t know why he, the offender, would put all of us – me, him, Nicko’s family – through this.”

READ ALSO Paedophile Maurice Van Ryn must pay $1.4m to victim for ‘reprehensible’ abuse

The driver said he had known Mr Robertson since he was a child and “he was always the kind of person you could go to”.

He kept to himself, lived off-grid and made sure he had whatever he needed to live away from society, while his best friends were his dog, Hugo, and the driver himself.

“He had a passion for cars and he lived to be just Nicko,” the driver said.

“No-one should have taken that away from him, it’s so unfair.”

Campbell had been listed to face a trial, but the 23-year-old pleaded guilty to murder and wounding with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm about two weeks before his trial was to start.

Prosecutor Ratcliffe argued Campbell had chosen to use methamphetamine that weekend even though he knew he tended to become violent when he did.

He had been clean of the drug for months before using his Centrelink welfare payments to buy meth on 12 February, 2021, three days before the murder, then used it throughout the weekend, she said.

She argued Justice Peter Garling could find Campbell had an intention to kill partly due to the location of the wounds on Mr Robertson’s body, the persistence of the stabbing and how he had a delusional motive to defend himself from a perceived threat.

Campbell’s barrister, Christopher Barry KC, said his client had found himself in a remote area when it was dark and a paranoid psychosis started due to his drug use.

READ ALSO South Coast killer Kim Snibson could walk free in five years

The group had just bought petrol and his then-21-year-old client perceived that they’d use the petrol to harm him in some way, the barrister said.

He argued Campbell hadn’t intended to use the knife, but had been overwhelmed by psychotic delusions.

“If not for substance abuse psychosis, these crimes would never have been committed,” Mr Barry argued.

Campbell had abused illicit substances for four years before the murder, he said.

Mr Barry also argued that it appeared his client had stabbed his victims to incapacitate them due to his delusional fear that they could kill him.

He submitted that the longer his client was on parole, the better it would be for Campbell’s rehabilitation and the community.

Justice Garling will hand down his sentence on 20 July. Campbell is in custody.

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.