'Bizarre' elements to Kiwi's killing

Last updated 15:43 20/12/2013
Debara Martin
FREE SPIRIT: Debara Martin was found dead in her New South Wales home in May last year.

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A man who drunkenly beat his New Zealand girlfriend to death at their home in a tiny Australian town will remain behind bars until at least 2031.

Adam John Kennedy, 26, pleaded guilty to the murder of Debara Martin, 43, after her body was found at a house in Bowraville, NSW, in May last year.

Martin, originally from Napier, was a chef who had moved to Australia and was working as a kitchen hand when she died. She had first met her killer during her time as a sex worker, the NSW Supreme Court heard.

Kennedy was sentenced today to 23 years and four months' jail, with a non-parole period of 17 years and four months.

He nodded as the term was read out.

As he was led from the court, the victim's mother yelled: "At least you get your life, Debbie doesn't. At least you can turn over in bed. Hope you're bloody satisfied."

Handing down his sentence, Justice Geoffrey Bellew said that on the night of the murder, Kennedy turned up at his brother Luke Kennedy's house, screaming and banging on the door.

"I've killed her, I've finally killed her," he was described as saying, before asking for his brother's help hiding the body.

Justice Bellew said Adam Kennedy was grossly intoxicated.

"On a scale of one to 10, [the brother] formed the view that the offender was a 10 or perhaps even an 11," he said.

When Kennedy's brother refused his request to help dispose of the body, the court heard, he dumped it on a sofa before driving away.

He was picked up in the early hours of the next morning by police who had spotted him driving erratically near Taree.

"His speech was slurred, he was unsteady and he was only partially dressed," Justice Bellew said.

The judge recounted a harrowing list of injuries Martin was said to have suffered: bruising to her neck, arms, legs, torso, hands, breast and foot, fractured ribs, brain injury, trauma to her ear, eye and mouth.

"I am satisfied that the deceased's injuries and subsequent death were caused by multiple blows struck by the offender with his fists," Justice Bellew said.

But he was not satisfied Kennedy - on bail for firearms offences at the time of the "brutal and sustained" attack - intended to kill Martin, only that he intended to inflict grievous bodily harm.

Justice Bellew suggested that Martin's desire to return to sex work might have sparked tensions between the two, and his drunkenness might have played a role.

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He said elements of the crime were "bizarre". Kennedy had squirted hair conditioner around the home he shared with Martin, and used tomato sauce and toothpaste to write symbols and letters on the fridge and bathroom vanity.

The court had heard Kennedy struggled with alcohol since he was 13, following his parents' separation.

His father told the court he was "a different guy" when drunk, with uncharacteristic mood swings.

Justice Bellew said he accepted Kennedy's father's testimony that his son had shown remorse, but said his prospects for rehabilitation were "uncertain".

- AAP

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