Text lures Australian man to his death as he tries to collect debt for sister
Twenty-five minutes before he died, Australian man Bradley Dillon sent a text message to his long-time friend.
"Got the car," the message said. "Pick you up tomorrow."
Dillon, 25, had just bought a Nissan GT-R and had driven it to Leichhardt, in Sydney, where he parked opposite the TAB in Flood St.
He went inside the betting agency, coming in and out several times, before his phone lit up with a message from a number he didn't recognise. The phone sending the text had only been activated an hour earlier.
"Car park under TAB," it said.
Dillon left the shop and began to walk towards the underground car park of Leichhardt MarketPlace. Soon after, a woman walking past heard a "very aggressive" argument.
But there was little sign something was awry until five gunshots rang out.
Dillon staggered onto the street, with his hands wrapped around his abdomen as though he was hugging himself.
He had been shot three times with a Glock 9mm pistol and stabbed four times while his back was turned. Two bullets went through his abdomen, hitting vital organs and an artery. One went into his heel, coming out the bottom of his foot. Two bullets missed.
On the street outside, at least five people heard the shots. One man called emergency services immediately.
Witnesses saw at least two men, possibly three, running from the scene straight after the shooting, about 5.36pm on August 11, 2014.
Dillon didn't make it that far, collapsing on the footpath where he was declared dead after paramedics were unable to revive him.
Eighteen days after the brutal killing, police arrested Diego Carbone at Sydney International Airport and charged him with murder.
His cousin Antonio Bagnato was also believed to be involved, but had fled to Thailand on August 13, two days after Dillon was killed.
On Thursday, a jury of six men and six women found Carbone guilty of the murder after deliberating for two days.
The families of the murderer and the victim shouted at each other outside the court immediately after the verdict.
A member of Dillon's family said they hoped Bagnato would have fun waiting on death row in Thailand.
Carbone's supporters shot back: "How do you sleep at night when you give drugs to young kids?"
A three-week trial at Darlinghurst Supreme Court, in Sydney, was told Dillon was "ambushed" by Carbone as he attempted to collect a A$2000 debt owed to his sister by her ex-boyfriend Adriano Riccio.
Dillon said he would help his sister after she unsuccessfully tried to resolve the situation on her own. He started contacting friends of Riccio, who he knew to be a member of the notorious Saint Michael Fight Club.
Carbone, whose back is emblazoned with a tattoo of St Michael, was a former member of the fight club, while Bagnato - who has "Saint Michael" tattooed on his stomach - was a current member.
By August 9, Dillon told his friend of 20 years that the situation was resolved. Two days later, on August 11, he sent "pick you up tomorrow" at 5.11pm.
"But, of course, he was killed that night," Acting Justice Jane Mathews told the jury as she summed up the case.
Crown prosecutor Richard Herps told the court Carbone and Bagnato were part of a joint criminal enterprise to murder Dillon, and it was impossible to say which of them was responsible for each part of the shooting and stabbing.
It is unlikely Bagnato will ever be charged over Dillon's murder. In February 2017, he was sentenced to death in Thailand for the 2015 abduction and murder of Hell's Angel bikie Wayne Schneider, who was buried in a shallow grave in the Thai resort town of Pattaya.
- Sydney Morning Herald