The body of John ‘Jack’ Garda was found near the Pacific Hwy at Broadwater.
The body of John ‘Jack’ Garda was found near the Pacific Hwy at Broadwater. Jay Cronan

Lennox Head murder trial

AT THE trial of a Lennox Head man who is accused of murdering a Byron Bay businessman in 2010, the jury was told the murder was a result of 'a drug deal gone wrong'.

Kevin Malcolm Purtill, aged 39 at the time, is accused of killing a Byron Bay business owner John 'Jack' Garda, 54, on February 8, by slashing his throat.

A 12 person jury was sworn in yesterday at Lismore Supreme Court to hear the evidence in the trial which is estimated to run for four weeks.

The Crown prosecutor told the jury it would seek to prove Purtill murdered Mr Garda at his home at 19 Blue Seas Pde in Lennox Head.

It alleges Mr Garda was dealing in cocaine at the time of his murder.

The prosecutor said the Crown would show Purtill was a customer of Mr Garda.

On the afternoon of February 8, 2010, the Crown said, Mr Garda visited Purtill's Lennox Head home to do a drug deal.

The Crown alleged that during this deal, Purtill killed Mr Garda by slitting his throat.

After the murder, Purtill and his brother Warren disposed of Mr Garda's body by dumping it in a shallow grave beside the Pacific Hwy at Broadwater, the Crown alleges.

Mr Garda, the owner of the Byron Bay Newsroom at Sunrise Beach and the 24/7 grocery store in Jonson St, told a friend before he left, to 'call the police' if he didn't return from the meeting.

Police launched an investigation into the whereabouts of Mr Garda, after he had been missing for three weeks.

Strike Force Whip, with assistance from the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad, led to Purtill's arrest and he was charged with Mr Garda's murder on February 27.

Purtill appeared in court yesterday, dressed in a wrinkled grey suit and tie with a white shirt. He spoke to his barrister, Mark Dennis only.

Mr Dennis asked for the trial to be adjourned until Wednesday so he could prepare further material.

Judge Harrison adjourned the trial until 10am on Wednesday at Lismore Supreme Court.