Murder case delay causes upset
THE body of murdered Byron Bay businessman John ‘Jack’ Garda remains in a Newcastle morgue waiting on an autopsy two months after its grim discovery buried in a shallow grave near Broadwater on February 27.
Details of the delay to the autopsy caused a Lismore Local Court Magistrate to voice her ‘displeasure’ when the case was mentioned by the Crown this week.
Mr Garda’s accused killer, Kevin Purtill, appeared in custody via a video-link.
Purtill, 38, of Lennox Head, did not oppose an application by the Crown to allow a police forensic procedure to obtain his DNA with a buccal swab.
The Crown said that while 60 statements had now been obtained, forensic and post-mortem reports were still outstanding.
It said it had been advised there was a two-and-a-half month wait on forensic tests and that the post-mortem exa- mination on Mr Garda’s body was still to be conducted, with a minimum three-month wait.
When asked by Magistrate Robyn Denes what the hold-up was, the Crown replied a large number of toxicology reports were outstanding and this was estimated to take bet- ween three and six months.
When Ms Denes asked whether they were aware peo- ple were being held in custody over the death of the store owner, the Crown replied yes.
Ms Denes said people could not wait that long in custody for court hearings because there were ‘time limits’, although it was acknowledged as being a resource issue.
She said it was not acceptable to stand the matter over until August without some constant review of the matter.
Ms Denes asked that her ‘displeasure’ about the delays be noted because the charges were very serious for every- one involved, including the deceased man’s family and the accused.
She ordered the forensic procedure be conducted on Purtill and his matter was adjourned to July.
On the same day in the Lismore District Court, Purtill’s elder brother, Warren Purtill, 46, withdrew his severity app- eal over a six-month jail sentence imposed by a Lismore Local Court magistrate in Feb- ruary for fraud offences for using Mr Garda’s credit cards just days after his alleged murder.
Warren Purtill had pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud by deception, and once charge of larceny, after going on a spending spree with the cards belonging to Mr Garda, spending hundreds of dollars on new clothes, alcohol and a surfboard.
He was also found with Mr Garda’s laptop computer.
He has since been charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder.