Edward James Kelly of Broadwater known around town as Ned Kelly.
Edward James Kelly of Broadwater known around town as Ned Kelly.

Decapitated man's sister hopes killer dies in jail

THE sister of decapitated Broadwater man Edward "Ned" Kelly says she hopes her brother's killer dies in the Sydney jail where he will spend at least the next 19 years of his life.

Margaret Simmons wept in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday as an emotionless Jonathon Stenberg was sentenced for what police and the presiding judge have described as one of the most bizarre murders they've dealt with.

The court heard that Stenberg had offered varying versions of events to psychologists about the night he shot his neighbour, cut off his head and attempted to destroy the evidence with fire.

At one point he claimed he had been suffering from hallucinations and that a "voice" in his head had told him to "go and sort him out".

He said that after he had shot Mr Kelly, the same voice told him to "take it off", so, feeling like he "was in a movie", he removed the victim's head - "don't ask me why" - but felt so bad about what he had done that he placed an Akubra hat over the wound.

He also claimed there had been "open hostility" between the pair ever since an incident in 2009, where Mr Kelly allegedly made homosexual advances towards Stenberg, placed his arm around him and said "don't knock it until you try it".

He described an argument with Mr Kelly about the chopping down of a tree on his property and the sound of Mr Kelly banging on his shed as "the last straw".

Before and after the killing, Stenberg spread a number of lies to paint Mr Kelly as a person to be feared.

In the days before, he was drinking at a Broadwater pub when he showed patrons a silver pistol and told one he was a federal police officer, hunting for Mr Kelly because he was apparently wanted for drug and paedophilia offences at Evans Head.

While on the run from police in the Northern Territory, where he was eventually found barricaded in a hide and armed with high powered guns and ammunition, Stenberg emailed his wife and told her that Mr Kelly had threatened to rape her.

The court heard Stenberg was no stranger "to telling untruths".

He had previously claimed to have spent up to six years in the military where he came under in Iraq, when in fact he had served for two years on Australian soil and had spent most of his working life in the construction industry.

With the chilling evidence about the precision with which Stenberg had decapitated Mr Kelly and his attempt to destroy the evidence by fire, came an equally unsettling revelation about the steps Stenberg had taken to release his victim's pet bird from its cage so it wouldn't get hurt.

Justice Schmidt said the decapitation and attempted incineration of Mr Kelly's body were "brutal and unnecessary" acts and that the disturbing release of the bird shed "considerable light on the seriousness of this awful offence".

She rejected the suggestion the murder was not planned or that Stenberg was so affected by alcohol he didn't know what he was doing.

She found that to the contrary "he was so unaffected that he was able to go in the dark to Mr Kelly's home where he had never been ... execute him with a single shot to the head ... decapitate him cleanly ... take steps to set his home alight with a home-made fuse, to free a bird so that it would not be burnt, to dispose of Mr Kelly's head ... to drive back to his home in Queensland where he reported to his wife that he had shot Mr Kelly because he was pissed off with him ...as he plainly was".

Other than an off-handed comment to police about throwing Mr Kelly's head into a river, Stenberg has never been clear about the location of the remains.

Justice Schmidt said that had Stenberg been truly remorseful he would have given "a full account of what he did to dispose of that part of Mr Kelly's mutilated body".

As the head sentence of 25 years and five months was read out, Stenberg briefly looked up at Justice Schmidt, nodded and turned his gaze back to the wall.

Outside court, Ms Simmons, who was praised by the judge for the strength she had shown in facing Stenberg in court and reading out a series of moving victim impact statements, said the fact that Stenberg continued to keep the location of her brother's head a secret showed "the calibre of a man".

She said Mr Kelly's death had hit her family like "an atomic bomb".

"I hope that Stenberg actually realises what he's done and that someday down the track he decides to take his own life, put himself out of his misery and save the taxpayer's money," Ms Simmons said

"He was a superhero in his own mind - but unfortunately no-one else's."

Stenberg will be eligible for parole in October, 2037.

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