Four jailed over SA drug-crop killing

·2-min read

Four men found guilty of the bashing murder of an Albanian refugee during the robbery of a cannabis crop in Adelaide have all been jailed for at least 20 years.

After deliberating for four days in October last year, a jury found Benjamin John Mitchell, 34, Alfred Claude Rigney, 47, Matt Bernard Tenhoopen, 25, and Aaron Donald Carver, 38, guilty of murdering Urim Gjabri who was found dead in his suburban rental property in October 2018.

The 46-year-old was discovered by a friend in a pool of dried blood.

In sentencing in the Supreme Court on Monday, Justice David Lovell said the killing was at the lower end of the scale for such offences and he could not be sure who struck the fatal blow or blows.

But he said Mr Gjabri was hit over the head at least once and possibly twice, and according to forensic evidence initially survived the attack.

Evidence before the court suggested he had lived for at least another 35 minutes and possibly up to 24 hours.

Justice Lovell said the four men had gone to the victim's house to perform what was known as a "drug rip", planning to steal the cannabis being grown inside.

"This was a drug rip that went terribly wrong," the judge said.

The court was told that after the four men fled with the plants, there was so much they had trouble getting it all into their car.

At one stage one of the accused offered some cannabis to a witness, who had emerged from a nearby house, if he helped them load the drugs, Justice Lovell said.

During the trial, prosecutor Rob Walker told the jury that Mr Gjabri died from severe blunt force trauma to the head.

His skull was caved in, with several fractures, Mr Walker said.

On the crown case, each of the accused was party to a plan to commit a home invasion or robbery because they went to Mr Gjabri's home and emerged with his cannabis.

For the murder offence, Justice Lovell imposed a non-parole period of 20 years for each of the offenders, backdated to when they were taken into custody soon after the incident.

He said the sentences reflected the fact that all four men were part of a plan to steal the drug crop.