A man who slit a Byron Bay businessman's throat and then
blamed his own brother has been jailed for at least 21 years
for the "inexplicable" murder.
The truth about the death of 60-year-old John Garda, whose
body was discovered in a shallow grave at Broadwater on the
far north coast in February 2010, may never be known, Justice
Ian Harrison said in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.
Kevin Malcolm Purtill, 41, from Lennox Heads, was sentenced
to a maximum term of 28 years' imprisonment for the murder,
which the judge found occurred during a drug transaction at
Purtill's home on February 8, 2010.
A jury found Purtill guilty despite his assertions that he
was innocent and that his brother, Warren Purtill, was the
The trial heard Mr Garda, a well-known Byron Bay convenience
store owner, came to Kevin Purtill's home on the afternoon of
the murder and a fight broke out.
Warren Purtill was downstairs watching a DVD with a neighbour
and the court heard he ran upstairs when he heard the noise.
The neighbour told the court she fled the scene after she saw
blood dripping through her ceiling from the unit above.
Testifying against his brother, Warren Purtill said there was
"blood everywhere" when he entered the unit and Mr Garda was
lying dead on the floor.
He said his brother had asserted Mr Garda was trying to kill
Warren Purtill said he agreed to dispose of the body and
clean the unit, while Kevin Purtill left for Brisbane.
He pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the murder and
was jailed for at least three years last May.
Kevin Purtill told the court that he left his home when
Warren entered and that Warren then killed Mr Garda - an
account Justice Harrison said was "frankly incredible".
"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that (Kevin Purtill)
cut (Mr Garda's) throat from behind using a kitchen knife,"
"He has never accepted, as far as the evidence before me
reveals, any responsibility for a role in the death of (Mr
Mr Garda met "an unexpected and particularly violent death",
Justice Harrison noted.
"The reason for the offender's attack on him remains
unexplained and ... inexplicable."
The court heard Kevin Purtill was being held in protective
custody as he fears a reprisal from his brother.
Taking into account time already served, he will be eligible
for parole in February 2031.