No bail for Purtill

LENNOX Head man Kevin Malcolm Purtill was yesterday committed to the Supreme Court in Sydney to stand trial for the murder of John “Jack” Garda in February last year.

Magistrate R Denes, who had heard from many witnesses throughout a protracted committal process, said she was satisfied there were reasonable grounds for Purtill to go to trial in the higher court in September.

It is alleged that Purtill, 39, killed Mr Garda, a 54-year-old Byron Bay businessman, on February 8, 2010, at Purtill's home in Blue SeasParade, Lennox Head.

The accused man's defence team applied for bail yesterday on the grounds that the Crown's case was not a strong one.

Public defender Chris Bruce, SC, said the prosecution case relied entirely on the evidence of one witness, who had lied to police and was otherwise unreliable.

As well, Purtill was not a flight risk, Mr Bruce said. He had voluntarily gone to the police station and provided information about the whereabouts of Mr Garda's body.

Purtill had no record of failing to appear when required and had strong ties to the area, including a partner and an 18-month old son, Mr Bruce said.

Refusing bail, Ms Denes said she did not share the defence view that the prosecution case was not strong.

The testimony of the principal witness, who lived beneath Garda and had heard a violent fight and shouting on the day of the alleged killing, was not so unreliable that it could not be accepted by a jury, she said.

And there were a number of witnesses and other “pieces of the jigsaw puzzle” that needed to be protected.

It was a matter of concern that the hearing had exposed “the undercurrents of some of the less-savoury aspects of the local community”, Ms Denes said.

Mr Garda's body was found nearly three weeks after he disappeared, buried in a shallow grave in sandy ground down a bush track in thick banksia scrub near Broad-water.

It had to be identified by dental records.

A pathologist told the court that he had died from a 28cm gash to the throat that ended at the back of his neck to the depth of his spine.