The family of slain Wollongong man Jade Cady has broken down in tears in court after a jury took less than 90 minutes to find his neighbour guilty of murder.
Meirion Thomas Morris bludgeoned Mr Cady in the neck with a hammer inside a block of units on New Dapto Road in November 2014 after the pair had smoked cannabis together.
Mr Cady’s body was found wrapped in plastic bags inside a wardrobe in Morris’ unit three days later.
A post-mortem revealed a series of fractures to his throat cartilage, which proved fatal.
Morris pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder at the beginning of his Supreme Court trial last Monday.
Jurors listened to evidence from multiple witnesses, including the last man to see Mr Cady alive that night.
They retired at 3.30pm on Thursday to consider the case and delivered the guilty verdict just before 5pm.
Mr Cady’s sisters Julieanne and Tracey, who sat through the entire eight days of the trial, were unable to contain their emotions as the decision was read out.
“We’re happy it’s over and ended in a guilty verdict, but nothing will bring him back,” a still tearful Julieanne told the Mercury outside court.
She said she blames Morris for taking not only her brother from the family, but their mother too.
“Mum died six weeks after Jade...she died from a broken heart at having to bury her son.”
Ms Cady described her brother as a quiet man who, although not without his personal demons, had a heart of gold.
“He may have been a drug addict but he looked after mum on a daily basis,” she said.
“No one’s perfect, but he did everything he could for her.”
Morris’ defence team had argued their client was suffering from an “abnormality of the mind” at the time of the killing due to his poor mental health, which significantly reduced his culpability.
They suggested the jury could find that Morris had only wanted to stop Mr Cady from yelling out during an argument over a drug deal.
However, the jury ultimately failed to believe Morris’ version of events, finding that he intended to seriously harm or kill Mr Cady that night.
Justice Des Fagan adjourned the case to Thursday for sentencing.