A MAN convicted of the strangling death of a Glen Innes greengrocer has been sentenced to 28 years jail.
Mathew Aquilina, 27, of Casino, learnt of his fate in Newcastle Supreme Court on Friday morning in front of the victim’s family.
Justice Geoff Bellew told the court Aquilina would be eligible for parole in 2032.
Aquilina was the third person charged over Adrian Trevett’s October 2011 death and one of five people charged during the investigation.
Aquilina, his mother Karen Dawson, and friend David Comber all have been sentenced over Mr Trevett’s murder.
The greengrocer was taken to an old butter factory at Red Range and assaulted with an iron bar before being questioned and subsequently strangled with a noose. His body was then dumped in bushland near Tenterfield.
In Friday’s sentencing, Justice Bellew said Aquilina’s involvement in the crime was “above the mid-range of objective seriousness”.
“One can only imagine the anguish and the helplessness which would have been experienced by the deceased in the final moments of his life,” Justice Bellew said. “He lay on the ground, gargling and gasping for air, whilst the offender (Aquilina) pulled on the rope, standing on the deceased’s shoulder as he did so to ensure maximum leverage was achieved.
“The deceased endured this for a period of between 15 and 20 minutes.”
“The offender then played a part in disposing of the deceased’s body in bushland, only to return to it some days later in an apparent effort to take further steps to conceal it. He then profited from the deceased’s death by selling his bicycle.”
The court previously heard Mr Trevett was interrogated in the old butter shed about his conduct towards Dawson and her grandchildren.
Aquilina’s defence had initially claimed he was provoked by Mr Trevett but Justice Bellew said he was not satisfied Mr Aquilina was “provoked by the conduct of the deceased” and he was also not satisfied that Aquilina felt any remorse for the killing.
A transcript of a police recording of Mr Aquilina quoted him as saying: “I tied a rope. Dave was standing there like a b**ch. I seen (sic) a piece of rope and tied a noose, put it straight around the c****’s neck and I stood on his f****g shoulder and pulled it.”
“Statements by the offender that deceased’s murder was “worth it”, and that the deceased “deserved it” are, in my view, the antithesis of expressions of remorse,” Justice Bellew’s judgement said.
Following Friday’s sentencing, officer in charge of the murder investigation, Detective Sergeant Matt Crotty, of New England police, said Aquilina’s sentencing marked the end of a lengthy investigation and judicial process.
“We thank the community for their assistance and the family of Mr Trevett for their support and faith in our officers,” he said. “We hope these results will provide some closure for his family.”
Mr Trevett’s family yesterday told Fairfax Regional Media they were happy with Friday’s result. “We think it’s a fair outcome and we really think that Peter Barnett, the crown prosecutor did an absolutely marvellous job and we can’t thank him enough, “ Mr Trevett’s niece, Lee Ostler said.
“We were thrilled with the response by Glen Innes police and Inverell police and detectives, Greig Stier, Matt Crotty and Tony Ehsman .
The family also thanked court support staff for their help.
“Everything is final now,” Ms Ostler said. “Maybe our lives can get back to some sort of normality.”