Hitman guilty of murdering grazier
THE man who was hired to kill former Casino grazier Jeffrey Ryan has been found guilty of murder in Armidale Supreme Court.
Cessnock pensioner Kenneth Brooks, who denied the charges and pleaded not guilty will be sentenced next year.
Mr Ryan was shot in the back on his Duri property south of Tamworth on October 23, 2009 and was found by a neighbour the following morning.
The killing sparked a massive police investigation.
Mr Ryan's mother Marie said yesterday that it was a huge relief, though it didn't bring her son back.
"At least they have all been found guilty," she said.
"They've all tried to lie their way out of it but they were found guilty.
"For two years and three months it's been like an unbelievable nightmare but now we're starting fresh again and hoping everything will go along reasonably well from here."
The murdered man's wife Helen Ryan and her mother Coralie Coulter were both found guilty in an eight-week trial earlier this year of organising the killing and were sentenced to 36 years and 27 years imprisonment respectively.
Ganene Coulter (sister of Helen Ryan) received a discounted sentence after pleading guilty and testifying against her sister and mother - she is serving 11 years and two months.
The court heard that she had put Mrs Ryan in touch with Brooks after not being able to find anyone in Tamworth to do "the job".
Brooks offered to do it "cheap" for $30,000, half paid up front and half paid after.
Mrs Ryan told Brooks that her husband was beating her and on September 1, 2009, put $500 for expenses into a bank account opened by Brooks's de facto Joeleen Farrell.
Shortly after, Mrs Ryan got an apprehended violence order against Mr Ryan, leading him to move into a shipping container on the farm.
Brooks then travelled to Tamworth to carry out the killing.
After being arrested for the murder, Mrs Ryan breached bail conditions and went to Cessnock to pay Brooks the remaining $15,000 where the pair were arrested.
Farrell, 30, received an 18-month suspended jail sentence in October for hindering the investigation.