Garda murder trial underway

Police found the body, believed to be that of Byron Bay businessman, John
Police found the body, believed to be that of Byron Bay businessman, John "Jack" Garda, 54 , in the Broadwater area, south of Ballina, on Sunday. Lennox Head man Kevin Purtill, 38, was charged with murder. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star Jay Cronan

A MAN accused of murdering a Byron Bay businessman in 2010 has blamed his brother for the crime.

The Supreme Court trial of Kevin Purtill, who is accused of murdering John "Jack" Garda at his Lennox Head home on February 8, heard Purtill's defence barrister Mark Dennis will allege his brother Warren was Mr Garda's killer.

Warren Purtill has been sentenced to four years' jail after pleading guilty to being an accessory after the fact of the murder and to a charge of fraud.

Kevin Purtill's jury, empanelled on Monday to hear the estimated four-week trial, was discharged after five minutes today when the court heard that one juror had failed to inform the court of a prior medical condition that would have prevented them from sitting on the trial for the expected four weeks.

Another jury was selected and sworn in about 11.15am.

Evidence was heard from six witnesses yesterday including Mr Garda's close friend and bookkeeper Susan Rafati and the man who supplied Garda with the cocaine he sold to Purtill, Zohar Kohavi.

Mr Zohavi told the court he sourced 0.5kg of cocaine from Sydney for Mr Garda to sell to Purtill.

He said on the afternoon of February 8 he gave Mr Garda two 250 gram packages of bubble-wrapped cocaine before he dropped him at a pub at Suffolk Park on his way to Mr Purtill's house.

"He was very nervous, I don't know why," he said. When Mr Garda didn't return after an hour, Mr Zohavi said he began to call his two mobile phones.

Six days after Mr Garda went missing Mr Zohavi said he met Mr Purtill at the Lennox Head hotel and told him, "Don't lie to me, I know exactly what has happened."

"I asked him where is the drugs and he said he sold it for $86,000," Mr Zohavi told the court.

The trial continues today at Lismore Supreme Court.

John "Jack" Garda

Topics:  lennox head lismore supreme court murder police

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