Many violent crimes have rocked the Northern Rivers over the years.
Many violent crimes have rocked the Northern Rivers over the years.

9 violent crimes that rocked the region

THE Northern Rivers has seen its share of violent crimes over the years.

According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the Ballina Local Government area had a rate of recorded homicide incidents more than three times the state average in the 12 months to June 2020.

The Tweed Shire had more than double the state average, based on population, during the same period.

During the same time, the Lismore, Byron and Richmond Valley LGAs had above-average rates of assault while the Ballina, Tweed and Kyogle Shires were below-average.

The Kyogle LGA saw reported assaults drop by 52.6 per cent over two years.

We have compiled nine of the most significant homicide matters which have affected the region in recent years:

 

 

Rachel Wheatley.
Rachel Wheatley.

 

1. Rachel Wheatley, Jason Mundy and Jade Nielsen, Queensland and North Tumbulgum

THREE people were last year jailed for their parts in the death of Queensland mother Sabrina Bremer, and the consequences following her death.

Ms Bremer was killed in Queensland and her body was concealed in the home of Rachel Angala Wheatley, 31, and Jason Mundy, 32, for two days before they moved her to Pollards Rd in North Tumbulgum, wrapped her remains in a blanket and set her alight on August 18, 2016.

Last November, Wheatley received nine years' prison for manslaughter and was also sentenced to 18 months behind bars for interfering with a corpse.

Mundy received six and a half years' imprisonment for interfering with a corpse and being an accessory after the fact.

At the time of their sentencing, Mundy was eligible for parole.

Jade Rodney Nielsen, 43, was also released on parole after receiving two years' prison for attempting to pervert justice.

 

 

Police released a photo of a man wanted by NSW Police in relation to the murder of Edward 'Ned' Kelly whose headless body was found in the kitchen of his home in Broadwater on the NSW North Coast in 2012.
Police released a photo of a man wanted by NSW Police in relation to the murder of Edward 'Ned' Kelly whose headless body was found in the kitchen of his home in Broadwater on the NSW North Coast in 2012.

 

2. Jonathon Andrew Sternberg, Broadwater

BROADWATER man Edward "Ned" Kelly was murdered in June, 2012 by his neighbour, Jonathon Andrew Stenberg.

Police found Mr Kelly decapitated in his kitchen on the afternoon of Thursday, June 22.

His sister Margaret Simmons had said her brother and his attacker had been involved in a dispute about the removal of a number of trees.

Ahead of the murder, Sternberg told the local barman he was "here to hunt Ned Kelly".

He'd also claimed: "by the end of the week Broadwater will be full of police".

Sternberg roamed through Queensland and auditioned for an acting role before his arrest, which eventually took place in Darwin.

Stenberg was sentenced to 25 years and will be eligible for parole in 2037.

His victim's head has never been found.

 

3. Kevin Purtill, Lennox Head

KEVIN Purtill has never confessed to the murder of John "Jack" Garda.

But, after burying the Lennox Head man in a shallow grave and attempting to frame his brother for the crime, Purtell was found guilty and sentenced to a lengthy prison term.

He will be eligible for parole in February, 2031.

Mr Garda, a shop owner in Byron Bay, had his throat slit by Purtell in an apparent cocaine deal gone wrong.

Mr Garda died in Purtill's Lennox Head unit on February 8, 2010.

During the trial, the woman who lived below Purtill told the court of the blood that dropped through her ceiling, after she heard screams and a loud thud.

 

 

Michael Martin Junior made an appeal to the public for help in solving his father Michael Martin Senior's murder outside Murwillumbah Police Station almost a year after his father’s death, and shortly before his arrest. Photo by Richard Gosling
Michael Martin Junior made an appeal to the public for help in solving his father Michael Martin Senior's murder outside Murwillumbah Police Station almost a year after his father’s death, and shortly before his arrest. Photo by Richard Gosling

 

 

4. Michael Martin, Murwillumbah

MICHAEL Phillip Martin, 30, will be behind bars until at least 2042 for the brutal murder of his father, Michael Anthony Martin.

After a trial in which details of $2.5 million in life insurance coverage were aired, Martin Jnr was found guilty of murder.

He was sentenced to 37 years prison in February, 2018 and will first be eligible for parole from December 13, 2042.

Mr Martin Snr, 46, was brutally killed with a Japanese katana in his South Murwillumbah home in the early hours of June 13, 2014.

Months earlier, he was the victim of a home invasion and he only returned from hospital the night of his death.

During his sentencing hearing in 2018, Supreme Court Justice Peter Hamill said Martin's murderous actions were in some ways akin to "cold blooded contract killing" but also acknowledged "the target of his crimes was the man he held responsible for his difficulties".

 

 

James Paul Alderton
James Paul Alderton

 

5. James Alderton, Murwillumbah

IT WAS a horrific daylight brawl involving and witnessed by a large number of people, including children.

James Paul Alderton, 25, who fatally stabbed another man in a popular Murwillumbah park in 2014 will not be eligible for parole until June 2027.

In July, Mr Alderton was sentenced to 14 years and six months prison for manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He fatally stabbed Charles Larter and injured Charles' son Zackary and Joshua Mead during a dramatic fight in Knox Park.

The weapon he used was a knife stolen from the nearby Coles supermarket.

The day of the incident was Charles Larter's birthday.

 

6. Paul Ian Lane, Casino

PAUL Ian Lane was eligible for parole from February this year after he was convicted of manslaughter.

Peter Morris, 52, died in a Gold Coast Hospital eight days after a fight unfolded on a Casino street just before midnight on September 15, 2012.

Lane was initially found not guilty of murder but guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

An appeal on this verdict - based on legal issues, material found in the jury room and alleged jury "misconduct" - was successful, and he was set to be re-tried on manslaughter in 2018, but he pleaded guilty before this trial began.

The court heard Lane was kicked out of a Casino pub while Mr Morris and Christopher Schwager also left the venue, which was closing.

Lane received a total of eight years' prison.

 

 

Javen O'Neill was jailed last year for the manslaughter of Byron Bay DJ Chris Bradley. O'Neill fatally punched Mr Bradley at a party on Christmas night in 2017.
Javen O'Neill was jailed last year for the manslaughter of Byron Bay DJ Chris Bradley. O'Neill fatally punched Mr Bradley at a party on Christmas night in 2017.

 

7. Javen O'Neill, Byron Bay

JAVEN O'Neill, 26, pleaded guilty to manslaughter over the fatal assault of 28-year-old Christopher Bradley on Christmas night, 2017.

O'Neill punched the victim in the head three times at a house party in Byron Bay.

He was last year sentenced to eight years and three months;' prison, with a non-parole period of five years and nine months.

During his sentencing, Judge Wells found O'Neill showed genuine remorse for his actions.

 

8. Samuel Buultjens, Byron Bay

IRISH traveller Colm Kenny was visiting Byron Bay with his best friend, Brian Gillian, in 2008.

It was a dream Australian holiday, but things soured after the paid tried to jump the queue outside the Cheeky Monkeys nightclub.

Local man Samuel Buultjens and his friends took exception to this.

Mr Kenny and Buultjens argued and there were fatal consequences.

With verbal abuse and some push and shove antics from both sides a bouncer intervened and the two Irishmen walked away.

But their paths crossed again, with fatal results, three hours later.

Buultjens came across Mr Kenny at the 7/11 supermarket shortly after 3am on May 11.

A scuffle ensued between them and the men exchanged punches on the corner of Jonson and Lawson Sts.

Mr Kenny threw a punch which didn't connect before Buultjens struck him on the chin.

According to witnesses, Mr Kenny either stumbled, tripped or fell to the bitumen roadway.

His head struck the ground and he was taken to Byron Bay Hospital, before being flown to Brisbane for further treatment.

He died on May 18.

Buultjens received an 18-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

 

 

Craig Field enters court in Lismore during his trial. Photograph: Jason O'Brien
Craig Field enters court in Lismore during his trial. Photograph: Jason O'Brien

 

 

9. Craig Field, Kingscliff

FORMER South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Craig Field remains behind bars after losing a severity appeal over a coward-punch manslaughter in Kingscliff.

Field fatally assaulted Cudgera Creek cattle farmer Kelvin Kane.

Field had claimed he was acting as a "peacemaker" when Mr Kane fought with his friend, Shaun Fathers, at the Kingscliff Beach Hotel in July, 2012.

Field was sentenced to 10 years' prison, with a non-parole period of seven years and six months after a 12-person jury found him guilty of manslaughter.

He appealed the severity of this sentence but it was upheld by a three-judge panel in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in December, 2015.


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