Cannabis grower dismembers friend’s body

Killer cannabis grower Leonard Borg has had his effort to overturn a murder conviction dismissed. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

A cannabis grower jailed after killing and dissolving a friend over fears he was a police informant has lost a bid to be freed.

Killer Leonard Borg’s effort to overturn the conviction in the Victorian Court of Appeal on Tuesday was shot down for lacking merit.

Borg, 40, was jailed in 2012 after a Supreme Court jury found he had murdered Peter Rule, 56, at a Campbellfield factory in Melbourne’s north three years earlier.

The court was told Borg was growing cannabis crops at rented factories in 2009 – one of which was raided by police in March that year.

In the following months, he became suspicious that Mr Rule informed police of the location and had been “snooping” around another factory in Thomastown.

On November 15, Borg took Mr Rule out to dinner before driving him to a Campbellfield factory, where he was shot multiple times with a rifle.

N25ho418 b1 Small File 4cm Missing Man Peter Rule
Peter Rule was reporting missing to police on November 17, 2009. Picture: Supplied

Borg then drove the body to his Thomastown cannabis operation and spent the following three days dismembering, burning and dissolving Mr Rule remains in hydrochloric acid.

But almost a decade later he launched an appeal against the conviction, arguing his lawyer at the trial was incompetent and claiming there had been a “substantial miscarriage of justice”.

During a hearing last week, Borg argued the lawyer had been negligent and failed to discuss her tactics at trial – including accusing two Crown witnesses of being Mr Rule’s true killer.

Central to his case was his lawyer claiming during trial that she had overheard witnesses discussing what to say during a break and confronting them in the stand rather than recusing herself and becoming a defence witness.

He pointed to several interjections made by trial judge Justice Lex Lasry questioning the lawyer’s actions during the trial.

“Goodness me. Your client won’t understand this but I am now intervening on his behalf because I can’t for the life of me see how you are not doing his case harm by this cross-examination,” Justice Lasry was quoted as saying.

“You need to think about what you are doing … I am sorry to be irritated about it but I can barely believe my ears.”

Borg’s effort to overturn the conviction was dismissed for lacking merit. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Handing down their decision to reject the appeal, Justices Phillip Priest and Stephen Kaye said overall Borg’s lawyer’s conduct at trial was “competent”.

“Even if it be accepted that there were some blemishes in the manner in which senior counsel presented the applicant’s case … we consider that none of these matters establish that there was incompetence,” they wrote.

“In our opinion, the putative appeal so lacks merit that an extension of time ought not be granted.”

Borg will be eligible for parole after serving 24 years and nine months.