A Victorian drug addict who shot a man in the back of the head, stole drugs from his car and dumped his body in an abandoned gold mine will spend at least 20 years behind bars.
Ricky Lee Ganly was missing for about eight months before his decomposed body and car were found in the flooded Avoca Lead Dredging Site early last year.
He had been shot at close range with a cut-back rifle by Maryborough man Jesse Willis, 30, who later lied and said he killed the 48-year-old in self-defence.
Willis claimed Mr Ganly stood over him, cut him with a scissors, and demanded Willis give him a gun after the pair had scored drugs and driven to Avoca.
He claimed he later grabbed the gun and fired the shot as Mr Ganly threatened him from the front seat, telling Willis he would arrange for bikies to show up on his doorstep.
Supreme Court Justice Robert Osborn said he did not believe Willis’ account and it was unlikely the jury, who found Willis guilty of murder, did either.
Mr Ganly died from a single shot fired squarely at the back of his head on April 29, 2013.
“The mode of killing itself bespeaks a deliberate execution,” Justice Osborn said on Thursday, as he sentenced Willis to 24 years in jail, with a non-parole period of 20 years.
“It is highly unlikely he would be sitting facing forward as he threatened you.”
Willis took drugs and coins from Mr Ganly’s car and then called a friend, Stuart Angus Hutchison, and asked him to help dispose of the body.
The pair drove separate vehicles, including Mr Ganly’s, to the mine and Willis pushed Mr Ganly’s car in with his body inside.
Hutchison has been sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment and a two-year community correction order after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Ganly’s mother, Veronica Ganly, said her heart “has been torn out” by not knowing what had happened to her son for so long.
Justice Osborn said Willis had prospects of rehabilitation, but had not shown true remorse.
“You have not confronted the horrific reality of what you have done,” he said.