The father of a man gunned down outside a Unanderra home has spoken of his outrage at the time his son's murderer will spend in jail.
Matthew Spinks, 37, was sentenced to 15 years and 7 months in jail for shooting, and fatally killing, his friend Nathan Costello in the early hours of February 14, 2018 outside Carr Parade, Unanderra.
As Justice Peter Hamill imposed a head sentence of 20 years and 10 months, Mr Costello's supporters shouted "die you mongrel".
Following a two-week trial in the Wollongong Supreme Court in February this year, the jury delivered a majority verdict, finding Spinks guilty of murdering Mr Costello when he fired two shots from a 12-gauge shotgun towards Mr Costello, who was standing on the grass verge near his car.
Spinks claimed he only wanted to damage Costello's car.
Justice Hamill said he had "no doubt" Spinks had intended to kill Mr Costello at the time he pulled the trigger.
'My son's dead'
Outside court, Mr Costello's father Robert who had been to every day of trial, was visibly upset by the punishment handed down.
"Dead against it," he said. "No way.
"When I heard that (sentence), I just had to walk out of the court after what they said.
"My whole life is ruined now. [He] got 15 years. He has already done three of them. It's nothing.
"He's got another 12 then he gets out and he will still be a young bloke and my son's dead.
"I love my son. He was a lovable son that I got on good with. We got on perfect.
"Everyone thought the world of him and the bastard done that and gets 15 years. I won't tolerate it."
Melanie Hazell, who has children to Mr Costello, also said outside court that the sentence was "nowhere near long enough"
"The kids have lost their dad. It's not long enough," she said through tears. "[His death] has had a huge impact."
What happened before, during and after the shooting
The jury heard Spinks deliberately shot Mr Costello in "revenge" after he went to Spinks' Koonawarra home on February 5, 2018 and threatened him, armed with a knife.
Mr Costello had the "delusional belief" Spinks was sleeping with his partner Melanie Hazell.
The incident caused Spinks to make several calls to Triple 0 but he was unharmed and Mr Costello left.
They were friends but had a falling out.
On the night of February 13, Mr Costello and Ms Hazell went to his friend Daniel Blow's Unanderra home so his friend could fix his new car.
At about 2.15am, Costello was standing on the grass verge between his car and the fence of the house when a black Mercedes SUV, driven by Spinks slowly pulled up alongside Costello's car, after circling the area several times during which time Spinks had accidentally fired a gun in his car.
Spinks, who had turned off the headlights and had the visor down, pulled out a 12-gauge shotgun and fired two shots, with the pellets from one cartridge hitting Costello in the face, neck, chest and shoulder while the other shot landed in the car.
Ms Hazell, who got out of the car, tried to prop Mr Costello up as he had blood in his mouth but he died from his injuries.
One shot went through one window, out the other side of the almost fully open rear passenger side window and hit Costello, who was leaning over.
Spinks then drove away and dumped the car. Police found it burned out at Noonga Reserve in Cordeaux Heights a day later, with Spinks fingerprints found inside.
Prior to the shooting, CCTV showed Spinks walked to the 7-Eleven at Dapto, bought two drinks and pie, before getting into the SUV parked nearby prior to driving to Unanderra.
Spinks turned off his phone about 13 minutes before the shooting
After leaving the SUV at the reserve, Spinks got into a SS Commodore, he had planted there that day, and went home but parked the car in a nearby street. The next day Spinks asked an associate to paint over the Commodore.
Once at home, Spinks called his taxi driver friend who took him to Shellharbour Club where they stayed until it closed before eventually returning to his house.
The court heard Spinks lied to police about knowing anything about the shooting and was not arrested until July.
On the first day of the trial, Spinks pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge but that was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
'Significant degree of planning'
Justice Hamill accepted Spinks' actions involved a "significant degree of planning" over several hours and it was "far more than a spontaneous act".
He said Spinks' "callous and premeditated actions have left a trail of devastation".
"This is a serious case of murder, it was premeditated, planned and carried out in a public place," Justice Hamill said.
He did not accept the heavy use of the drug 'ice' Spinks was regularly consuming had an impact on his capacity to form the intention to kill Mr Costello, adding he was able to plan his getaway and calculate some type of "false alibi" when he went to 7/11 service station and to Shellharbour Workers Club.
Justice Hamill acknowledged the shooting occurred in a public place but it was at night and there were no passers-by.
He did note Spinks put Ms Hazell in a "grave risk of death" when he fired near her.
Justice Hamill said there was a degree of provocation that had occurred from the incident at Spinks' house some days prior but his actions were a "disproportionate response".
He also took into account Spinks' criminal record and put little weight on the remorse Spinks said he felt after hearing a news report that Mr Costello had died, which caused him to vomit.
In a psychological report, Spinks reported "feeling bad about the death and tried hard not to think about it".
Spinks' PTSD and drug use
The incident between Mr Costello and Spinks at his home had triggered Spinks' post traumatic stress disorder, the court heard.
Spinks was stabbed in 2017 by a group of men outside his home, with his injuries requiring surgery. The attack escalated his drug use and he suffered from insomnia, was paranoid and had anxiety.
Justice Hamill accepted a doctor's report that stated the combination of the unresolved PTSD and being threatened in his home by Costello led to his actions on February 14.
Spinks also gave evidence that he felt Mr Costello had benefited from an car insurance payout, that allowed him to buy a new vehicle. Spinks said he was annoyed because he had helped Mr Costello avoid police after he crashed his car.
The court also heard Spinks had become a painter after leaving high school but lost his licence which made it difficult to keep his employment and that descended him into drug use.
Spinks had a partner who continued to support him and he had seen "stressful" events in custody.
Justice Hamill noted his likelihood of reoffending was difficult to determine given the long time he would spend in custody.
Loved ones feel loss of Nathan Costello's death
The court heard the lasting impact Mr Costello's murder had one his loved ones.
Mr Costello's mother and father wrote victim impact statements to the court where they described the "devastation" they felt after losing their son.
His mother said she felt depressed, had chronic anxiety and had become more intolerant and angry, adding she was "no longer scared of dying but instead now scared of living in a world without her son".
Robert Costello told Justice Hamill his son was a "happy go lucky man" and his death had "left him in pieces" but he was grateful to still have his memories of him.
Ms Hazell said Mr Costello was her "partner and best friend" and her "life has no meaning or purpose" anymore.
Justice Hamill passed on his condolences and said no sentence he could impose would ease their pain.
"It is clear Mr Costello has and will continue to be dearly missed," he said.
The sentence was backdated given Spinks has been in custody, to August 2018 and he will be eligible for parole in March 2034.
Read more court-crime stories here.
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