Lismore Court House in Zadoc Street.
Lismore Court House in Zadoc Street. Marc Stapelberg

Samurai sword killer may get life sentence

A LIFE sentence with no parole is a fitting sentence for a man who carried out a "callous and premeditated" plan to brutally murder his father for financial gain, a court has heard.

Michael Phillip Martin, 28, who was last October found guilty of the June 2014 murder of his father in a bid to cash in on $2.5 million in life insurance policies, is being sentenced in the Supreme Court in Lismore this week.

Martin planned and executed two violent attacks on his 46-year-old father, Michael Anthony Martin, in his South Murwillumbah unit in April and June 2014.

The first attack on April 7 left his father in hospital a critical condition and his flatmate Edmund Manning with serious injuries. Two months later - the first night Martin snr returned to the Quarry Rd unit after an extended stay in hospital - Martin jnr savagely hacked and stabbed him to death with a samurai sword.

During sentencing submissions heard today, Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell said Martin's neglect during childhood at the hands of his at times "derelict" father did not mitigate his "carefully planned" and "heinous" crime.

Martin crimes required "such obvious deliberation and reflection" that he must be considered capable of further serious offending, Mr Campbell argued.

He said evidence of defensive wounds on Martin snr's hands indicated "the last moments of his life must have been terrifying".

"Anyone who could have such complete lack of concern for human life and for those affected by his crime must considered a continuing threat," he said.

Martin had also shown no remorse, insight, or responsibility for his offending, and was an "accomplished liar" who lied "continually to the police for a long, long time about many issues".

Mr Campbell said the court would be "well justified" to think a life sentence without parole "is in proportion to the enormity of the crime".

But Martin's barrister Gabriel Wendler said calling for a life sentence was "inflammatory".

Mr Wendler said during his formative years Martin found himself in an abusive situation from which was born "resentment, revenge, and other negative feelings... dislocation, disaffection... and disappointment that he wasn't a normal father."

"To use the stepmother's (description), a monster".

There was evidence that Martin jnr was assaulted by his father, routinely exposed to drug use, alcoholism, and low level criminality.

This "shameful neglect and cruelty" at his father's hands was borne out by Martin's three suicide attempts in later years.

Mr Wendler described Martin's acts on the night of June 12-13, 2014 as an "mental explosion" in which the years of neglect at the hands of his father culminated in a violent outburst.

"His release from that trauma was unfortunately a lethal attack on his father," Mr Wendler said.

But Justice Peter Hamill questioned that, saying the murder from one point of view was "a cold blooded execution for money".

"He has two cracks at it, the second attempt comes after visiting him in hospital how many times, feigning concern?"

The court heard a psychiatric assessment of Martin indicated he suffered from major depression and was taking anti-depressants for several years prior to the murder.

Martin, a father to two children with wife Candace (who was sentenced in November to a maximum 10 years' jail for her role in the murder plot) has radically changed his appearance since his trial over the June 2014 killing.

Appearing in dock clad in green prison issue shorts and a polo shirt, hands clasped between his legs, Martin's head was clean shaven and he wore a handlebar moustache and thick 'goatie' beard.

It was a stark contrast with his appearance before a 12-person jury last October, where he sported neatly combed hair and a suit, and almost boyish looks.

Justice Hamill is expected to hand down his sentence on Friday.



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