Michael Martin Junior made an appeal for public help over dad’s murder. Picture: Richard Gosling
Michael Martin Junior made an appeal for public help over dad’s murder. Picture: Richard Gosling

Six grisly murders on the Northern Rivers

1. Marie Darragh And Isabella Spencer, Ballina, May 9, 2014:

CONVICTED MURDERER: Former nurse Megan Jean Haines murdered two residents at a Ballina nursing home in 2014. Photo contributed
CONVICTED MURDERER: Former nurse Megan Jean Haines murdered two residents at a Ballina nursing home in 2014. Photo contributed Contributed

In May 2014 nurse Megan Haines murdered two elderly nursing home residents Marie Darragh, 82, and Isabelle Spencer, 77, by injecting them with insulin.

The callous crime was carried out in St Andrews Village nursing home in Ballina on the might of May 9, when Haines was working the night shift.

The pair were found comatose the next day and never regained consciousness.

Haines had only been working at St Andrews for a month and had a chequered history as a nurse, with prior findings against here in Victoria and restrictions on her registration.

Hours before the murder was carried out Haines had discovered the two women had lodged complaints against her.

Years before the pre-planned killing she had boasted to a boyfriend while watching the popular crime show CSI how she could kill someone without being caught - with insulin.

Haines was sentenced to a minimum 27 years and will be eligible for parole in 2041.

 

2. Michael Martin Snr, Murwillumbah, June 13, 2014

Michael Martin Junior made an appeal for public help over dad’s murder. Picture: Richard Gosling
Michael Martin Junior made an appeal for public help over dad’s murder. Picture: Richard Gosling

Michael Anthony Martin was hacked to death with a samurai sword in a bloody killing courtesy of his son, Michael Phillip Martin, who tried to fake a home invasion to pretend he was also a victim.

Martin wanted to claim $2.5 million in life insurance he had secretly taken out on his father's life.

He was struggling financially with a spendthrift wife and three kids to support. But he also despised his father, due to a tumultuous upbringing marked by physical and emotional abuse.

The murder came only two months after an earlier attempt on Martin's life, in which he was badly bashed almost to death, also by Martin, a jury would later find.

46 year old Murwillumbah resident Michael Martin was killed on Friday the 13th.
Photo: Blainey Woodham / Tweed Daily News
***IMAGE IS LO RES ***
46 year old Murwillumbah resident Michael Martin was killed on Friday the 13th. Photo: Blainey Woodham / Tweed Daily News ***IMAGE IS LO RES *** Blainey Woodham

The final act took place in Martin snr's South Murwillumbah unit where his son had come to stay supposedly to help his dad move.

Martin stabbed him 16 times and he was left partially decapitated.

Last year a jury found him guilty of murder, and the earlier attempted murder and the grievous assault of Martin's flatmate.

Martin was sentenced to 37 years' jail with a 27-year non-parole period.

3. John "Jack" Garda, Lennox Head, February 8, 2010

BYRON Bay corner shop owner John "Jack" Garda's throat was slit by his killer Kevin Purtill in an apparent cocaine deal gone wrong.

The killing took place at Purtill's Lennox Head unit on February 8, 2010.

There was so much blood that the lady who lived below Purtill later testified in court saw it dripping through her ceiling, after hearing screams and a loud thud.

Purtill's brother Warren was involved in the clean up of the murder scene and later charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Kevin Purtill later buried Garda in a shallow grave near Broadwater, and tried to frame his brother for the murder by showing police a map to the corpse and claiming it was Warren who killed Garda.

 

Shallow grave where the body of John 'Jack' Garda was found, Broadwater National Park. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star
Shallow grave where the body of John 'Jack' Garda was found, Broadwater National Park. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star Jay Cronan

He never confessed to the murders but was found guilty. He will be eligible for parole in February 2031.

4. Adrian Trevett, Glen Innes, October 29, 2010

Murdered man Adrian Trevett.
Photo Contributed
Murdered man Adrian Trevett. Photo Contributed Contributed

A WINDOWLESS room in a brick and tin hut on a property at Red Range, not far from Glen Innes, was the scene of the horrific torture and murder of 62-year-old Adrian Trevett.

It was unclear what motivated the three people, Casino men Mathew Aquilina and David Comber, and Red Range woman and Trevett's neighbour Karen Dawson, to do such a thing, but alcohol, unfounded suspicions of child abuse, petty theft, and a soured friendship between Dawson and Trevett apparently played a role.

Over three hours the victim was punched, kicked, cut with a knife, and hung up in a noose to eventually die from strangulation.

The three tried to hide their victim's body on a fire trail near Tenterfield by covering it with dirt and sticks. They were all found guilty of murder.

5. Edward Kelly, Broadwater, June 2012

BROADWATER identity Edward "Ned" Kelly was murdered by his neighbour, Jonathon Andrew Stenberg.

A reclusive man, Mr Kelly was found decapitated in the kitchen of his Broadwater home by police on the afternoon of Thursday, June 22.

Edward James Kelly of Broadwater known around town as Ned Kelly.
Edward James Kelly of Broadwater known around town as Ned Kelly.

Mr Kelly's sister Margaret Simmons said her brother and Stenberg had a dispute about some trees being cut down.

Stenberg had earlier foreshadowed the killing by telling the local barman he was "here to hunt Ned Kelly" and "by the end of the week Broadwater will be full of police".

A massive manhunt ensued for Stenberg, who after roaming through Queensland and even auditioning for an acting role was eventually found holed up in bushland near Darwin.

Stenberg was sentenced to 25 years and will be eligible for parole in 2037.

Ned's head has never been found.

6. Simone Strobel, Lismore, February 2005.

SIMON Strobel's naked body was found right in the middle of Lismore, hidden under leaves at the Bocce Club, on Uralba St, opposite the Lismore Tourist Holiday Caravan Park.

She was found several days after going missing.

Simone and her boyfriend Tobias Suckfuell, along with their friend Jens Martin and Tobias' sister, Katrin, had been staying at the caravan park.

 

HISTORIC German backpacker Simone Strobel was found murdered in Lismore in 2005. Supplied
HISTORIC German backpacker Simone Strobel was found murdered in Lismore in 2005. Supplied

The circumstances of Simone's murder remain unresolved, and it was never taken to court.

But an inquest two years later found Suckfuell was the prime suspect, and the murder had occurred after the couple's relationship had soured.

While there was no evidence, detectives backed by expert witnesses suggested Suckfuell had smothered Simone with a pillow after a fight, then moved her body across the road.

The murder remains a talking point of Lismore's history.



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