Splashes nightclub murder: call for life in jail

The crime scene at Splashes nightclub in 2007.
The crime scene at Splashes nightclub in 2007.

Prosecutors  have called for life sentences to be handed to two of the four men involved in the 2007 shooting death of Dragan Sekuljica at Splashes nightclub.

The Crown argued that the duo, one of whom organised and paid for the hit and the other, the "hired gun" who fired the fatal shots, should receive the maximum penalty of a lifetime behind bars.

The pair, who can only be referred to as "C" and "M" for legal reasons, had extensive criminal records littered with matters of serious violence, Crown prosecutor Pat Barrett told the Supreme Court on Monday.

At the time of the shooting, both men were on parole after serving time behind bars; "C" for a charge of manslaughter and "M" for an assault matter. "M" has since been convicted on the charge of shoot with intent to murder over an unrelated incident.

The pair, along with Dalibor Bubanja and Jason Hristovski, were found guilty of Mr Sekuljica's murder following a lengthy trial that finished in May.

Mr Sekuljica was shot outside the one-time Cliff Road club by a masked gunman just before 3am on September 8, 2007.

The father of two ran back into the nightclub but collapsed near the bar as the shooter fired a further three shots execution-style, including a fatal bullet to his head.

The Crown argued Mr Sekuljica was gunned down by "M", a contract killer, as payback over a dispute between the deceased and the Bubanja family.

Mr Barrett said "C" had hired "M" to shoot Mr Sekuljica, Hristovski provided the murder weapon and Bubanja helped plan the murder and acted as a lookout, providing information on Mr Sekuljica's movements in and out of the club on the night he was killed.

All four men were found guilty of murder on account of them participating in a joint criminal enterprise, meaning they had a joint agreement to kill Mr Sekuljica.

Mr Barrett said the use of a contract killer to carry out what he described as a "cold-blooded execution", coupled with the complete disregard for public safety in the shooting taking place in the vicinity of a busy nightclub, put the murder in the worst category of such offences.

"My submission is the need for retribution, the protection of the community and deterrence justifies the imposition of a life sentence [for "C" and "M"]," Mr Barrett argued, saying the pair's culpability was high.

"["C"] has demonstrated on no less than two occasions that he is prepared to resort to lethal violence to deal with people he's had a falling out with over relatively minor issues.

"[Both men] have a pattern of offending involving firearms, showing a danger to the community that Your Honour would be entitled to have regard to when determining a sentence of life in prison."

Mr Barrett conceded that Bubanja and Hristovski played a lesser role in the crime, but maintained their level of culpability sat well above the mid range of objective seriousness.

He argued the pair should receive sentences "significantly greater" than the standard non-parole period of 20 years.

However, Hristovski's lawyer, Thomas Corish, said his client's level of involvement in simply supplying the pistol put his level of culpability at the lower end of the scale, saying to consider it any higher was "bordering on the absurd".

The court heard Hristovski had had a clean criminal record before the murder, however, between then and his arrest over the crime in 2012, he had been jailed for trafficking large volumes of drugs.

Presiding judge, Acting Justice Robert Hulme, has reserved judgment.