Tweed Heads Police Station.
Tweed Heads Police Station. Blainey Woodham

Three claim murder was not their intent

THREE men charged over the death of Bilambil's Luke Ogilvie did not think the "known" drug-dealer would be home when they went inside looking to raid his stash, the NSW Supreme Court has heard.

Casino brothers Benjamin and Andrew Biffin and their Tweed friend Nicholas McCulloch have all pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the 50-year-old, whose body was discovered at his rural property in March, 2010.

At a sentencing hearing in Sydney yesterday, the defence team worked to prove that although the trio had gone to the home with a goal, it was not to kill Mr Ogilvie.

The court heard that at the time, the three offenders were battling alcohol and drug issues and, believing Mr Ogilvie was away, went to his home with the intention of stealing drugs and/or cash.

Their plans were foiled when Mr Ogilvie appeared and confronted them.

While it was agreed some form of assault took place, there was debate over the level of force used and the cause of death.

The defence argued Mr Ogilvie was known to have coronary heart disease and that a heart attack could have occurred as a result of minor violence.

The Crown Prosecutor said while the role of each offender was unknown, their moral responsibility was equal.

He said Mr Ogilvie's health was of "no particular significance" as the three had formed a joint criminal enterprise and had gone to the home to commit an "unlawful act", the result of which was the death of Mr Ogilvie.

He also stressed the importance of public deterrence and called for jail sentences which highlighted the risk of "spontaneous acts" in any criminal activity, arguing - anyone who forms an agreement to commit an offence in the early hours must always be aware "something could go wrong".

Since their arrest more than three years ago, the offenders have spent broken periods of time in custody or home detention.

All three have been allowed bail until judgement is handed down on July 5.