Frenzied NSW murderer jailed for 14 years

Gus McCubbing
·2-min read

A Sydney man who murdered a frail friend, stabbing him 52 times in his own home has been jailed for at least 14 years.

Luke Close, 34, was found guilty in August of murdering Garry Welsh, 63, in February 2018 at his Nowra unit on NSW's south coast, following a judge-alone trial.

Close had attended Mr Welsh's home in search of drugs, Justice Richard Button told the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, but became "overwhelmed with frustration and resentment" when he couldn't find any.

Justice Button found Close was "grossly intoxicated" with alcohol and various drugs before, during and after the homicide and that the fatal acts had "a flavour of frenzy to them"".

"The tragic death of that defenceless old man was prompt, but by no means instantaneous," Justice Button said.

"It was terrifying and excruciatingly painful. Although the offender was indeed grossly intoxicated and in a frenzy that went beyond rationality, he surely at some stage of the attack appreciated that he was bringing about the death of his victim."

Mr Welsh's distraught mother earlier said she had suffered from "broken heart syndrome" over the murder.

"I had already lost an adult son to an illness, but to lose another in the most cruel and vicious way was very hard to accept," Pat Welsh said in her victim impact statement tendered to the court.

Close's partner had referred to the two men as being "drug buddies".

Although it was accepted he had no memory of the stabbing, Close pleaded guilty to the less serious charge of manslaughter which was not accepted by the Crown.

Close had forcefully inserted a knife or knives into "a frail old man, who must have been bleeding copiously as a result" and also inflicted many other injuries by violence.

The family did not learn of the extent of her son's injuries sustained in the "very cruel and frenzied attack" until just before the start of Close's trial.

"I can't for the want of trying erase that vision from my head. It's with my day and night," she said.

Her daughter, Kim Gough, said she didn't know how anyone could do what Close did to her big brother.

"I don't believe that they were mates. Garry was just being used and that makes me very angry and sad," she said.

Close wrote a letter of apology to his victim's family and friends, saying he was sorry for "the pain and heartache he had caused".

In the letter, tendered to the court, he said he hoped they could forgive him one day.

While he couldn't imagine the grief and sadness he had caused them, he said he did compare it to when he lost his mother which was "the worst feeling I've felt in my entire life".

Close was handed a total sentence of 21 years in prison.

He will eligible for parole in February 2033.