Body-in-the-laundry killer jailed
A Wollongong man who killed a pensioner and dropped his body from a second-storey window inside a surfboard bag, then planned to kill a witness with a heroin overdose, has been sentenced to 19 years in jail with a non-parole period of 14 years.
Mark Kenneth Jenkin, 47, was found guilty of manslaughter in June after carrying out at least two violent assaults on Mark Dower, 56, at a housing commission block in Mangerton in 2015.
Jenkin, who bashed the man so severely a tooth was found in his stomach, had pleaded not guilty to murder and conspiracy to commit murder the month before.
Justice Peter Hamill said the offences were "extremely serious" and "necessarily attract substantial jail sentences".
He said Jenkin's risk of future violent offending was "significant", based on his criminal history.
He described Jenkin as a man with a "very short fuse" and a "violent temper", noting the video he took of the victim on his phone, in which he called him a "dirty f**king rat" and said "I'm gonna kill you" during the assaults.
"I was not satisfied that Jenkin formed an intention to kill nor inflict grievous bodily harm," Justice Hamill told the court.
"However, I found that the deliberate unlawful assault by Jenkin during 22-28 March substantially contributed to Mr Dower's death, and that he was guilty of manslaughter.
"His conduct demonstrates a remarkable lack of remorse and empathy."
The judge took into account that Jenkin would be "well into his middle age" before he was entitled to seek parole.
He said Jenkin's treatment of Mr Dower's body, which stayed in his bathtub for at least two days before he disposed of it, showed his "indifference for his dignity".
In a statement, Mr Dower's daughter, who was not present for the sentencing, described her father as "her hero", and said she wished she could "spend just one more day with him".
"She wants to laugh with him and hug him again. She is lost in pain and endless grief," the judge said, based on a statement from the woman. She described her father as "the kindest man on the planet".
"I hope that in time the pain leaves, although I don't know that it will," Justice Hamill said.
During his Supreme Court trial in May last year, the court heard Mr Dower had been assaulted a number of times before dying from "homicidal violence", according to the Crown prosecutor.
The court heard that after Mr Dower had died, his body was placed into a zippered surfboard bag before being dropped from a two-storey balcony and hidden behind a number of bagged-up surfboards in the apartment complex's communal laundry.
Before Mr Dower's death, he had spent a substantial amount of time in Finland where he taught as an English teacher.
After his Finnish wife and father died, Mr Dower decided to move back to Australia where his mental health began to deteriorate.
The court heard Mr Dower would drink cask wine every day and by March 2015 he no longer had a fixed address and would often stay in a housing commission complex in the Wollongong suburb of Mangerton.
That was where Mr Dower, 56, met Jenkin and the two became acquaintances.
The prosecution alleged Jenkin was known for befriending people to eventually gain access to their bank accounts or savings.
Due to the significant amount of time he spent teaching English in Finland, Mr Dower was able to receive superannuation payments from there as well as from his Australian super.
The prosecution alleged Jenkin had previously robbed and intimidated Mr Dower before his death and that a number of witnesses noticed he had "been physically mistreated over some days" before dying.
The Crown prosecutor said it had several witnesses who remembered seeing Mr Dower in an increasingly injured state while he was staying in a friend's housing commission apartment.
The court heard the woman who owned the apartment he was staying in told detectives she regularly saw Jenkin intimidate and assault Mr Dower.
The Crown also said it would be submitting videos found on Jenkin's mobile phone as evidence.
The court heard one video showed Mr Dower in the apartment bathtub appearing visibly disoriented, with his pants down and faeces on his buttocks.
He also had an injury on his head and the right side of his face was swollen.
Jenkin could be heard in the video abusing Mr Dower and saying to another man: "Throw him in there head first and I'm going to kill him."
The Crown prosecutor also said it had a witness who had overheard Jenkin saying he'd hit Mr Dower so hard "it had exposed his brain".
The court heard another video allegedly showed Jenkin punching Mr Dower so hard three of his teeth were knocked out.
A post-mortem autopsy confirmed Mr Dower had one tooth in his stomach when he died.
The doctor concluded the tooth was there before he died.
Mr Dower had bleeding on the brain, fractures to his ribs, a fractured upper jaw and "severe trauma" to his mouth before he died, the court heard.
It was on April 16, 2015, just before midnight when police discovered Mr Dower's badly decomposed body in the communal laundry room of the Mangerton housing commission.
"The condition of that body made it obvious that person had been dead for some time," the Crown prosecutor said.
Officers quickly figured out the location of the body after breaking open the lock on the laundry room and smelling a "strong, putrefying odour".
A number of residents had also previously complained about the smell coming from the laundry.
Police had originally been notified of the body thanks to an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip-off.
Jenkin was already in custody for an unrelated matter when he was charged with Mr Dower's murder in November 2015.
The court heard that while Jenkin was in jail, he told his stepbrother to find out who had tipped off police.
Eventually, the pair allegedly figured out the person who had called Crime Stoppers was an acquaintance of Jenkin's who had helped him move the body "out of fear".
She had taken Mr Dower's pulse in the bathtub but found he was "unresponsive and cold", the court heard.
Jenkin and the woman then allegedly placed him the surfboard bag, before dropping it over the balcony and obscuring him behind a number of other boards in the laundry.
While Jenkin and his stepbrother had allegedly figured out who was behind the tip-off, police were simultaneously investigating Mr Dower's murder and had tapped a number of telephones they thought he might call in prison.
The court heard that in late 2015, Jenkin used a contraband mobile phone - a device that is banned in prison - to hatch a plan with his stepbrother about the woman who had tipped off police.
The court heard Jenkin told his stepbrother to give her a "hot shot of heroin" - something that would cause her to overdose and die.
Jenkin told his stepbrother the woman was already a drug user so it "would not seem that unusual".
After the phone calls, the woman, who was one of the Crown's key witnesses, was put in witness protection and Jenkin was further charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
He also pleaded not guilty to that charge last year.
In August 2015, while Jenkin was in jail, he was recorded saying on the phone, "about 10 minutes after this c**t died, (the woman) rocked up".
The Crown said it had a number of witnesses who could testify that Jenkin's stepbrother actively tried to buy heroin despite not being known to use the drug.