Murderer used Beerburrum forest as dumping ground
HE had done it before.
John Edward Harris has twice killed someone with a gun, wrapped them in a blanket and dumped them in the Beerburrum forest.
The first time, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter for killing his flatmate in 1991 and received 10 years jail.
Because of other offending he was not released on parole until 2011.
Three years after he shot mother-of-four Tia Landers in the head twice, after he and partner Linda Eileen Appleton tortured her for four to six hours in their Brighton home.
This time Harris has pleaded guilty, five days into a trial, to a murder described on Friday as heinous and sadistic.
The "striking" similarities between the fate of Harris's two victims was not lost on Crown prosecutor Phil McCarthy as he submitted to Brisbane Supreme Court the details of their final hours.
As well as both victims being wrapped in blankets and dumped near the Glass House Mountains, Mr McCarthy said the lounge had to be disposed of and homes cleaned of blood each time.
"There is frighteningly similar post-offence conduct," he said.
The sentencing court heard how Ms Landers's body was left with gaping wounds from a machete and knife as well as evidence of punching, kicking and stomping from Harris and Appleton on June 16, 2014.
Appleton "finished her off" with a plastic bag when she did not die before they dumped her in a shallow grave that was not discovered until July of that year.
Ms Landers had turned age 29 just three days before her demise.
Harris and Appleton's actions took a mother away from four young children, two boys and two girls.
Appleton, 43, and Harris, 44, were both sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.
They have concurrent sentences for holding two of Ms Landers's friends, who witnessed her murder, against their will and callously dumping her body.
Harris was also sentenced for trafficking and supplying drugs.
Justice Jean Dalton said Appleton and Harris both deserved higher non-parole periods than the statutory 20 years for the "heinous" nature of the offending.
Harris will not be eligible to apply for parole for 27 years.
He has already served 841 days so will become eligible on July 2, 2041.
Appleton must serve 23 years without parole - starting from today because all the time she has spent in pre-sentence custody related to other offending.
Justice Dalton said the only reason Appleton's non-parole period was smaller was that her criminal history was less serious than Harris, though it was still wracked with serious violence.
She said it was shocking to hear Appleton was plotting revenge against Ms Landers while she was in prison and then murdered her seven days later.
"She certainly suspected Mr Harris had an affair ... and it seems she also had the view that Ms Landers had stolen clothes and jewellery from her," she said.
"The offending involved a protracted, sadistic and brutal torture of Ms Landers over a period of several hours ... four to six hours.
"At one point she was put in a cold shower because she said how poorly she felt.
"Harris ... thought that would prolong her life or consciousness while the attack on her continued.
"It was so sadistic and prolonged, one can't help but conclude that (Harris) was not troubled at all by what he was doing."
Justice Dalton said telephone recordings on June 9 between Harris and Appleton, who was phoning from prison, revealed her intention to seek revenge on Ms Landers.
"You believed she had stolen your jewellery, your clothes and had an affair with your de facto husband Harris," she said.
"You were so possessed with the idea of revenge that it's really quite a shocking aspect to me that from inside jail you were plotting the crimes which took place just seven days later."
Criminal history began at age 18.
Described as a recidivist drug offender. Also offences offences of violence.
January 3, 1992: Two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm for a fight with two youths of a similar age to herself.
April 2001: Sentenced for assaulting a nine-year-old child who called her a bitch. Choked her and pushed her to the ground.
September 6, 2001: Sentenced for common assault after threatening a woman with a knife.
August 2002: Possessed a knife with six-inch blade in public for protection. Age 28.
2004: Pursued a 13-year-old girl, grabbed her by the throat and made jabbing motion with a fork. 18 months jail, suspended for two years after 209 days already served. Chased the children to a nearby church. When a child returned to a house, Appleton ran into a door and cracked the glass while yelling abuse at the children.
August 9, 2013: Sentenced to two years jail with parole release on October 18 of the same year for further offences.
October 27, 2015: Sentenced for throwing boiling water into face of corrective service officer. Called her "dog c***". Fortunate injuries were not worse. Occurred within a month of her being arrested over the Tia Landers murder.
Violent criminal history began at age 19.
October 29, 1991: Sentenced to 10 years jail for killing flatmate with a gun. Found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter after trial. Jabbing loaded gun at flatmate while finger was on the trigger and it discharged. Body disposed of in Beerburrum forest. Serious violent offence declaration which means he had to serve at least 80% of his sentence. The 10-year term was cumulative on existing sentences.
November 16, 1992: Sentenced for earlier grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning bodily harm while armed in company. Four years jail. Parole after one year. Large group of intoxicated men attacked two people over a $600 debt. One victim suffered serious wound to his head requiring 42 stitches.
July 18, 2006: Punched another prisoner repeatedly because there were no special food packs available. Split lip and black eye.
Cold-blooded details of daughter's torture made losing a child "intensely unbearable"
EVIL has been cemented in the Landers family history forever.
Those were the heartbreaking words from Tia Landers's mum Mary as she tried to express what her daughter's heinous murder had done to her family.
"On June 13, 1985, my daughter was placed in my arms for the first time, just minutes after she took her first breath," she said.
"She was so precious, her face so flawless, her skin so soft and I whispered 'I love you' for the first time.
"Twenty-nine years later on June 19, 2014, I filed a missing persons report at the Deception Bay police station.
"When Tia's body was located, I was told by detectives there was no chance I would be able to see my daughter one last time.
"There was to be no opportunity to whisper the words 'goodbye' and 'I love you' one last time.
"My beautiful daughter lay, this time, her face not flawless, her skin not soft but rather on a cold slab with her body decomposing, her insides decaying ... after being found in a shallow forestry grave (Appleton and Harris) had so coldly discarded her body in.
"It is hard to find the right words to convey the brutal torture and murder of my daughter.
"There are no words adequate to describe the pain, anger and despair that I have developed from her murder."
Mrs Lander's niece Haley Matthews read out the victim impact statement to a packed courtroom at Brisbane Supreme Court - describing how her cousin's torture and murder had made her aunt's life unbearable.
The statement detailed how the family had been torn apart since Tia was "savagely snatched" from them.
Mrs Landers is now the sole carer of Tia's four children - aged 12, 10, seven and six - and feels she cannot not give enough of herself to other families struggling in the wake of the horrific crime.
She said their world had been shattered and she dreaded the day they might be old enough to request their mother's autopsy and learn of the "brutal, gruesome, inhuman way" she died.
"I am a widow, a mother, grandmother, sister and now a parent of a murder victim - my daughter Tia Landers," the statement read.
"The loss of a child is the hardest thing to endure. The cold-blooded details of my daughter's torture and murder made this intensely unbearable."
- ARM NEWSDESK