Martin ‘Marty’ Sheahan hadn’t seen his former colleague for seven years the day the 64-year-old turned up at his home.
Sheahan had known Glenn Usher-Clarke since they were kids, kicking a football around Fairpark Football Club. He had even recommended Usher-Clarke for a job in 2015 at the same council where he worked in roads and maintenance.
But it was there that an almost lifelong association soured and, in January 2022, culminated in cold-blooded murder.
For about a year, police believe Usher-Clarke had ruminated over a secret plot to kill Sheahan after the 57-year-old reported him for stealing a council chainsaw from the pair’s workplace.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Alicia Thorp told the Coroner’s Court in Victoria on Friday Usher-Clarke’s descent from father to killer had begun more than a decade earlier when his family had begun noticing behavioural changes in him. Doctors later discovered he’d suffered multiple brain aneurysms.
The mood swings became more severe in 2017, when he went “cold turkey” and ceased alcohol, cigarette and cannabis use. Over the next month, the coroner heard, he suffered two strokes.
“Suddenly, he became highly emotional, crying at television news and reality TV programs. His eating changed. He began stealing insignificant items … taking banter to heart and failing to recognise personal boundaries,” Thorp said.
In July 2015 – unaware of the 57-year-old’s medical issues – Sheahan recommended Usher-Clarke for a position in his team at the council but, two months in, found out the new employee had stolen a chainsaw from the depot and stored it at a mutual friend’s house.
Usher-Clarke was later fired from his position after the matter was referred to management. He appeared gutted and was angry at his friend for “being disloyal”.
The pair’s soured relationship remained relatively undiscussed until, in 2021, Usher-Clarke asked his daughter for Sheahan’s phone number.
Police believe by now, the 57-year-old had begun to develop his murderous plot.
“I just want to send him a message and call him a dickhead,” he told his daughter.
Soon after, in April 2021, Usher-Clarke began writing his former colleague’s phone numbers on public toilets while living in Narooma, in NSW, telling people to text for a “good time”.
Seven months later, he moved back to Warburton to live with his daughter and soon after, on December 17, purchased a 12 gauge Adler shotgun from a retailer in Boronia.
He told his family he wanted to shoot rabbits.
On January 26, 2022, police said Usher-Clarke began to make his suicidal plans clear to others and texted a sex worker “good morning honey bunny, have a wonderful day, it’s my last day”.
Fearing the worst, his daughter began watching him more closely, cancelling plans with friends and asking her partner to move the keys for the gun safe.
Later that night, fearing her father was compiling suicide letters, she asked him to lock the gun away, but Usher-Clarke ignored her.
“What are you doing dad?,” his daughter asked. “I’m up to no good, love you,” Usher-Clarke replied.
Inside the home, his daughter would later find a note that read: “I’m sorry I’m leaving you this way, I’m just sick of the aches and pains. At the funeral can you please play ACDC”.
In the hour that followed, Usher-Clarke texted and called friends and family telling them to take care before driving to Sheahan’s house where he arrived at 8.20pm.
There, he walked to Sheahan’s front door, shooting the 64-year-old twice with a sawn-off shotgun through the front stained-glass window when he answered a knock at the door.
Sheahan’s partner later told police she saw a man in all blue with a distinctive red mullet walking south, away from her home, up the hill.
While police and emergency services attended the Sheahan household, Usher-Clarke drove to Westburn Park where he entered the public toilets, called Triple-0 and took his own life.
“I reasonably believe Mr Usher-Clarke’s hatred for Martin Sheahan festered and continued to develop following the termination of his employment from Yarra Ranges Council in 2015,” Thorp said.
“When Mr Usher-Clarke was legally and fairly terminated, he blamed Martin, instead of himself.
“On his return to Victoria … he sought out friends to catch up [with]. This was his final goodbye.
“In a phone call after the murder … Mr Usher-Clarke confessed, ‘that’s what I came back for’.”
Mandy Sheahan sobbed in her daughter’s arms as her statement was read detailing her distress at finding her husband and partner of 20 years on the night of the killing and her inability to ever return to the home that was meant to bring their family together.
Sheahan was described as a larger than life character, highly respected, hardworking and well known in his local community.
“I’m not sure how I can begin to articulate my distress. It was just Marty and me forever,” she wrote.
“Simply put, it was love. We did not need anyone else, what we had was perfect.”
Coroner Sarah Gerbert is expected to hand down her findings in coming weeks, which will likely include recommendations to change the firearms’ registry process in NSW, where Usher-Clarke obtained a permit to own a gun.
If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.
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