Sydney fountain feud triggered murder

Last updated 14:51 29/06/2012
Richard Carruthers
VICTIM: Richard Carruthers.

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An Iraqi-born man in Australia has been sentenced to at least 20 years in jail for the murder of a water landscaper as he slept alongside his wife in his suburban Sydney home.

Fadi Shamoun, 29, was given a maximum sentence of 27 years for the stabbing death of Richard Carruthers, 36, in the early hours of June 24, 2007 in the bedroom of the Castle Hill home he shared with Phuong Nguyen.

During a NSW Supreme Court trial, the court heard the rivalry between two companies over the contract to maintain some of Sydney's most prominent fountains was at the heart of the murder.

Carruthers had worked with a man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in the company Sydney Water Fountains before leaving to set up a rival company, Water Features Australia.

The Crown said the business rival was allegedly angry at Carruthers for "stealing" some of his clients, including a lucrative contract for the City of Sydney council in 2004.

This contract included the maintenance of some of the most famous fountains in the Sydney CBD and was said to be highly lucrative.

It was alleged that, after a series of heated letters warning  Carruthers not to poach his clients, the business rival arranged through a series of associates for Carruthers to be "bashed" for a sum of A$30,000.

Shamoun and another man, given the pseudonym David Saad, travelled to Carruthers's home, where Shamoun entered the bedroom and attacked Carruthers about 4am.

A violent struggle occurred and Carruthers died from a 13cm stab wound through his back that severed a main artery.

Carruthers's widow told the court she ran into the street screaming when the attacker burst into her bedroom. She suffered a laceration to her wrist.

In sentencing Shamoun today, Justice Geoff Bellew said he was satisfied that Shamoun intended to inflict grievous bodily harm on Carruthers but had not intended to kill him.

Justice Bellew said there was conflicting evidence as to whether Shamoun was motivated by the promised payment and whether he in fact received any money.

He said two forensic psychiatrists gave evidence that Shamoun had an acquired brain injury, which he received during a fall from a balcony.

The defence suggested Mr Saad may have taken advantage of Shamoun's limited intelligence and convinced him to carry out the offence while he took the money.

Saad has received immunity from prosecution in return for being a Crown witness.

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But Justice Bellew said Shamoun did not suffer a mental illness or a severe intellectual handicap and the brain injury was not significant.

He said Shamoun had not shown any remorse and his prospects of rehabilitation were unknown.

He was sentenced to a non parole period of 20 years for  Carruthers's murder, with a total sentence of 27 years. He was also given a non parole period of nine months for maliciously wounding  Nguyen, partly accumulated.

He will be eligible for parole in September 2029.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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