Appeal dismissed for John Garda’s murderer

THE man who murdered Byron Bay businessman John Garda and left his body in a shallow grave has failed to convince a court to grant him an early release on parole.

Kevin Malcolm Purtill was sentenced to 28 years in prison with no chance of parole for 21 years after he slit Mr Garda's throat in Lennox Head in 2010.

The murder occurred in Purtill's home.

A woman who rented a flat downstairs heard screams and a loud thud on the day of the murder, and saw blood dripping through her ceiling from upstairs.

Purtill's brother Warren, who was with the woman at the time, told the court he ran upstairs and saw Mr Garda's dead body.

He was later charged with using Mr Garda's credit cards, cleaning the crime scene and helping his brother bury the body in nearby bushland.

Purtill walked into the Lismore police station weeks after the death and handed police a map of where they could find the corpse and tried to frame his brother for the killing.

The reason for the attack was never explained, with sentencing judge NSW Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison saying it appeared to be the result of a drug deal gone wrong.

"The deceased attended the offender's home for the purposes of some drug-related transaction, involving the sale or the supply by the deceased to the offender of a quantity of drugs, probably cocaine," Justice Harrison said.

"In circumstances that remain largely unexplained, a violent disagreement erupted between the two men," he said.

"The offender ultimately killed the deceased by cutting his throat violently from behind using a large knife."

Purtill never gave evidence during the trial and never accepted responsibility for Mr Garda's death.

His legal team argued in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal that his non-parole period, which constituted three quarters of his sentence, was greater than the standard non-parole period and should be reconsidered.

Justice Clifton Hoeben found that any adjustment to the standard parole period was at the discretion of the sentencing judge, and that Justice Harrison had correctly explained his reasoning.

"Whichever approach to the ground of appeal is relied upon, the ground has not been made out," Justice Hoeben said.

"This ground of appeal was fundamentally misconceived," he said.

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