Murderer Travis Raymond Robinson sentenced to life in prison for stabbing Piri Phillips (20) in Perth CBD

Piri Phillips.
Piri Phillips.

A DISPUTE over a cigarette lighter led to 20-year-old Piri Phillips losing his life in broad daylight in the middle of Perth and his killer being sentenced to life in prison.

Travis Raymond Robinson, 38, was walking through the Perth CBD with his young son on the evening of January 10 this year and approached a group of youths outside the Wesley Church – where homeless and itinerant people often gather – the Supreme Court of WA heard.

He obtained a cigarette and spoke to the group of young men and women.

An argument broke out with Mr Phillips, who punched Robinson twice in the head because he thought he had stolen his lighter.

Robinson then retaliated by pulling out a knife and approaching Mr Phillips who was walking away and stabbing him in the chest and lower back. The scene was captured on CCTV.

People in the area ran to help and applied CPR but he died in hospital soon after from his chest and back injuries.

Robinson ran to the nearby Murray St mall and tried to attack a policeman, who was arresting him, with the knife and then a cut-throat razor while two members of the public and another policeman helped.

Robinson had taken action that was “grossly disproportionate” to Mr Phillips’ and knew he was carrying knives and chose to use them, Justice Joseph McGrath said.

“The offending that you’ve done has taken the life of a young man,” he said.

“The deceased had completely desisted in his assault on you, and as I said, the incident was relatively minor and had ended.”

Phillips had moved to Australia from New Zealand and his sister provided a victim impact statement describing each day as “one of sadness” now after the “senseless loss of her brother that she and her family loved dearly”.

Robinson’s childhood had been “unremarkable”, the court heard, but his life since his teens had been marked by drug abuse, little regular employment and significant personality problems, Justice McGrath said.

Robinson will be eligible for parole in 15 years.

MORE: Northern suburbs resident reunited with paramedics who helped save her life

MORE: Here comes the rain again: Perth set for weekend deluge

MORE: Child sexual abuse Royal Commission to sit for final time