As he lay on the road bleeding to death from stab wounds, Glen Smith used his final breath to tell the woman he had proposed to only a fortnight ago how much he loved her.
Moments earlier the 35-year-old and his fiancee Michelle Bell had been acting as good Samaritans for a woman attempting to escape an abusive relationship at Bolton Point, south of Newcastle, on Sunday night.
The couple had just witnessed the young woman being assaulted at a phone box across the road from their Threlkeld Drive house at about 10pm.
At the woman’s request they accompanied her back to the house she was staying at in nearby Leumeah Place to help her collect her personal items.
“She was so scared, she was really beaten up. She had bruises everywhere,” Ms Bell said.
“She said I have one bag of clothing, it’s just down the road will someone walk with me?”
Ms Bell said she and Mr Smith were confronted at the door of the house by a man brandishing a homemade weapon described as a pole with a large knife attached to it.
“He lunged through the door at her first. If she was half a foot closer it would have gone through her forehead. At that point I said come on Glen, let’s go,” Ms Bell said.
Instead, a verbal confrontation erupted during which Mr Smith was struck on the arm by second man wielding a butcher’s knife.
Seconds later Ms Bell said the man with the homemade weapon stabbed Mr Smith in the chest.
“I got him to the road and he collapsed. I was rocking him in my arms and saying just breathe, just breathe. He opened up his eyes and said ‘I love you’,” Ms Bell said.
“Then he took a breath, it was a noise I’m never going to forget and that was it.”
Frank Newman was among those first on the scene.
“We laid him on his side in the recovery position. Then we noticed there was blood everywhere so I put him on his back. I found a puncture wound in his arm then I found one next to his heart,” he said.
“We did compressions until the ambulance took over.”
Paramedics rushed Mr Smith to John Hunter Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Lake Macquarie detectives and the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad have established Strike Force Larkview the investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Smith’s death.
A man in his 50s was taken into custody at the scene and assisted police with their inquiries. He was not charged.
Police were last night still searching for the 32-year-old man in relation to the attack.
He is described as being of Caucasian appearance and 172cm tall.
“I urge that man to come forward and speak with investigators as soon as possible,” Homicide Squad Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin said.
Nursing her new engagement ring, a grief-stricken Ms Bell also pleaded with the man to hand himself in.
“Do it now. You have destroyed a family, you have destroyed people’s lives,” she said.
“Glen was just trying to help, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. In hindsight I wish we had gone inside and closed the door.”