A "master deceiver" who shot a man dead in the Illawarra to cover up his lies about a nonexistent cannabis haul has been jailed for at least 24 years.
Truck driver Glen Roland Dunstall, 50, was found guilty by a jury in October of the execution-style murder of 48-year-old John Gasovski, who was shot above his ear at close range in Budderoo National Park in mid-2014.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Richard Button jailed Dunstall for 32 years with a non-parole period of 24 years, saying the killer was "partly motivated by fear of retribution".
"The offender believed that he had, through that act of the utmost heartless brutality, solved the financial problem that he himself had created," the judge said.
"He was content to leave the body of the deceased where he had fallen to decompose, just like the body of a dead animal."
Mr Gasovski's body was found by a park ranger at Jamberoo three days after his wife reported him missing.
He came to know Dunstall through criminal associates but was "on the edge" of that world, Justice Button said.
A high-level drug dealer paid Dunstall $45,000 in "green-keeping" fees - in the hope of making a profit through onselling - after the then-45-year-old said he could get a large amount of cannabis from a Canberra warehouse.
The drugs didn't exist, but Dunstall provided misleading photos to suggest otherwise.
"Pressure began to build on the offender to make good on his claim that he could facilitate the supply ... for which the purchase price was proposed to be $300,000," the judge said.
At the time, Mr Gasovski "foresaw a very difficult financial future" for his family after a failed investment and became a "gopher" for a cafe owner associated with the dealer.
It was arranged Dunstall would travel from Wagga Wagga to meet Mr Gasovski at Sutton Forest petrol station, then the pair would get the drugs from Canberra and Mr Gasovski would pass them on.
While the victim believed the arrangement was genuine, Dunstall had armed himself with a gun, the judge said.
He convinced Mr Gasovski the plan had changed and to drive to Jamberoo instead.
Once they arrived, Dunstall "somehow inveigled" the victim to walk into the bush where he was shot.
"The men were together for a good half hour, during which, unbeknown to the deceased, the offender maintained the firm intention that his companion would shortly be callously murdered," Justice Button said.
The judge said Dunstall had decided to falsely claim the cannabis had been supplied to Mr Gasovski and, once he was missing, further say he had "either made off with the cannabis himself or been robbed by a third party".
He labelled Dunstall a decades-long "practised, chronic, recidivist" and "master deceiver" convicted of offences in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Dunstall's sentence was backdated meaning he'll be eligible for parole in May 2039.