11 court cases that have shocked the region
1. PAUL THOMAS RYAN
A Tweed Heads man who brutally murdered his former spouse as she begged for her life will spend years behind bars.
Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, was found guilty of murdering Marie Van Beers before Lismore Supreme Court in October.
The defence had argued Ryan’s mental impairments should warrant a reduction of his charge to manslaughter, but the court rejected this and found his act of repeatedly stabbing Ms Van Beers in the apartment the pair shared amounted to murder.
Ryan is to spend at least 17 years in prison.
He will not be eligible for parole until November 11, 2035.
2. EDWARD LORD
A cheating husband who caused his wife’s death when he crashed into the Tweed River was jailed for at least eight years.
Edward Kenneth Lord, 56, from Bonogin on the Gold Coast, was this year sentenced for the manslaughter of his wife, Michele Lord.
He pleaded guilty to this offence when he was about to stand trial on the more serious charge of murder in September, 2019.
Ms Lord suffered fatal brain injuries after the car the couple were travelling in left the pavement of Tweed Valley Way and plunged into the Tweed River near Tumbulgum in October, 2015.
Lord, a concreter, was having an affair with a Broadbeach-based masseuse at the time.
He went to the extent of moving his lover into their marital home as a “maid” in 2015, while his wife was working long hours and was dealing with breast cancer.
Lord was sentenced to 10 years and eight months behind bars in February.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, Justice Ian Harrison jailed Lord for 10 years and eight months, with a non-parole period of eight years. “The driving into the river was an intentional but spontaneous act carried out purely to vent his rage,” according to the agreed facts.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
3. JAMES PAUL ALDERTON
JAMES Paul Alderton, 25, was sentenced to 14 years and six months prison for manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
In a daylight brawl in Murwillumbah’s Knox Park, Alderton fatally stabbed Charles Larter and also injured Zackary Larter and Joshua Mead in June, 2017.
After a dispute began with some people in the park, Alderton stole a knife – the weapon he used in the attacks – from the nearby Coles supermarket.
Alderton was sentenced in July this year and will not be eligible for parole until June, 2027.
4. STEPSON ABUSER
A Far North Coast man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is facing a lifetime behind bars after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting his three stepsons.
A guilty found the man guilty of three counts of maintaining a sexual relationship with the three brothers, each aged between 10 and 14.
The man was in a relationship with the boys’ mother when he committed the offences, between 2017 and 2018.
He is due to be sentenced next year.
5. JIMI KNIGHT
The Nimbin man responsible for killing a beloved local woman in a hit-and-run incident will remain behind bars until at least next year.
Jimi Knight, 33, has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
He caused the death of Tonia Jansen, 62, and injured a man, 63, when he struck them both with his motor vehicle on Cecil St in Nimbin on the evening of April 17 last year.
After the crash, he returned to the scene and hid while he watched others render assistance.
He will be eligible for parole from September 2021.
6. STUART CHARLES NEWMAN
A 51-year-old who was the driver involved in a fatal hit-and-run near Mullumbimby has pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning death.
Stuart Charles Newman has lodged the plea in relation to the June 23, 2019 incident during which he fatally struck 22-year-old Tim Watkins on Wilsons Creek Rd in Wilsons Creek.
Mr Watkins, a prominent member of the Mullumbimby Giants Rugby League Club, was cycling along the road at the time of the incident.
Newman fled the scene without calling for help.
The court earlier this year heard the prosecution would drop a higher charge of dangerous driving occasioning death after his negligent driving plea was recorded.
He is due to be sentenced on March 17.
7. GRAHAM BELCHER
A BRITISH man who tried to flee the country after a fatal hit and run on the Far North Coast has pleaded guilty to all charges.
Graham Belcher, 52, was expected to go to trial in July after he pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death and grievous bodily harm.
But he then pleaded guilty to the same charges.
The charges relate to a September 2, 2019 incident on Tweed Valley Way at Tumbulgum.
Belcher was driving a blue Hyundai i30 which collided with two motorcyclists on Tweed Valley Way near Tumbulgum.
A 39-year-old Gold Coast man, Scott Rose, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Belcher is to be sentenced on March 17.
8. BRIAN JOHN LOUREY
A man who fraudulently withdrew more than $130,000 from his 94-year-old mother’s bank account to feed his gambling addiction was sentenced to 18 months on home detention.
Byron Bay pensioner Brian John Lourey, 67, made full admissions to police before being brought before the court on 22 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
According to court documents, his fraudulent spending took place between May 2018 and February this year.
Lourey has been appointed power of attorney for his mother, alongside his two siblings.
It was while conducting legitimate transactions for his mother Lourey took things further, withdrawing $135,100.90 of his mother’s money for his own use and accumulating $836.98 in ATM fees.
9. ANTHONY CHARLES FINOCCHIARO
A Tweed Coast man who was arrested in a dramatic fashion in broad daylight outside a Byron Bay hardware store was sentenced for trying to buy a gun from an undercover cop.
Kingscliff man Anthony Charles Finocchiaro, 45, was arrested outside Bunnings on Bayshore Drive in Byron Bay on July 19 this year.
The arrest sent the town’s rumour mill into overdrive because police in tactical gear were involved.
According to court documents, Finocchiaro engaged in communications through an online platform using cryptocurrency and made arrangements for the purchase of a Glock pistol.
But the person he was speaking with was an undercover police officer.
Court documents revealed police felt there was a “low level of sophistication” in the way Finocchiaro used the online platform, in that he provided his full name and address, email address, a photo of himself and his driver’s licence to purchase bitcoins as part of the arrangement.
Finocchiaro pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to acquire a pistol without a permit.
and received a two year community corrections order.
He must also complete 100 hours of community service work.