'Where is the rest of my son's body?' Victims family tormented by missing remains

Three drug-addicted killers have been jailed for the murder of a man who was dismembered and dumped in a Melbourne river, a crime described as "protracted, brutal and cowardly" by a judge.

As Brendan Bernard's killers begin hefty jail time, the victim's family remains tormented that some of the man's body parts, including his head, are yet to be found.

Brendan David Bernard’s dismembered body was dumped in a Melbourne river in February 2015. Picture: 7 News

"Where is the rest of my son's body?" grieving father Ronald Whitmore pleaded following the jury trial that found the men guilty last year.

"He was a human being, he was my son. He died for what?"

Con Spaliaras, 33, Matthew Brennan, 38, and Edward Hill, 48, were sentenced in the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday to 24, 22 and 20 years respectively for the January 2015 murder.

The three ice users bashed and strangled the 32-year-old over a $60 drug debt in what Justice Christopher Beale described as a "protracted, brutal and cowardly" crime.

Angry about the outstanding payment, the trio had been packing up Mr Bernard's room at the North Melbourne flat he was sharing with Brennan.

Police recovered his remains after a passer-by spotted an arm near the Maribyrnong River. Picture: 7 News

When he got home they bashed him until he passed out.

Mr Bernard came to and tried to escape but they dragged him into the bathroom and strangled him.

Spaliaras' partner was in the next room when the murder took place and came in to find Mr Bernard in the bathtub with a rope around his neck, the court heard.

"Here, have a pull at the dog," Spaliaras said to her, and yanked the rope.

The ice users left his body there for a week while they decided how to dispose of it.

The court heard Spaliaras wore Mr Bernard's shoes during that time because he found it amusing to be "walking around in a dead man's shoes".

Thinking Mr Bernard might have been hiding drugs in his body, Spaliaras and Brennan dismembered it.

The plan came undone when this tattoo lead to the identity of Brendan David Bernard’s body. Picture: Victoria Police


All three then dumped the body parts in a skip, wheelie bin and the Maribyrnong River.

Mr Bernard's tattooed arm featuring a distinctive red devil was found in the river in February 2015, before police located other remains.

Justice Beale said Mr Bernard's family suffered ongoing physical and mental ill-health as a result of the senseless murder and were "tormented" they still only had pieces of their loved one.

The judge said he was not satisfied the men were remorseful.

Spaliaras, Brennan, and Hill will be eligible for parole after 19, 17 and 15 years respectively, with Hill receiving the shortest because he did not participate in the dismemberment and was easily influenced because of his intellectual disability.

Spaliaras received the longest sentence because of his violent criminal history, poor prospects of rehabilitation and "chilling callousness" towards Mr Bernard.

Brennan's criminal history was not a violent one before the murder, but Justice Beale was concerned about his identification as a Nazi and long history of substance abuse.

Members of Mr Bernard's family were in court on Friday but did not wish to speak to the media.