May 26, 2017, was the day Bradley Scott Purkiss and Margaret Anne Otto reached their breaking point with Dwayne Robert Davies.
Their separate and joint resentment towards Mr Davies resulted in the former lovers executing a calculated plan to kill Ms Otto's husband.
Purkiss carried out the physical act of the murder, luring his 'best and only friend' Mr Davies to his Elderslie home where he shot him twice in a cannabis grow shed on the property.
The next day, Purkiss concealed the body in the back of his ute under a pile of green waste and took it to Levendale under the guise of taking a shooting trip with his father and brother.
Using an excavator on the property, Purkiss dug a clandestine grave where Mr Davies' body remained hidden until it was excavated by police on June 3, 2017.
In a series of interviews with police, both Purkiss and Otto lied in an attempt to conceal the crime.
Their inconsistent accounts did not convince police, with Otto admitting later in the interviews she believed Purkiss had killed her husband.
On Monday a jury found the pair guilty of the murder.
In a series of interviews with police, Otto admitted to having an affair with Purkiss which ended in late 2016.
In her first interview, described by her own lawyer Greg Melick as "a pack of lies", she denied any knowledge of what had happened to her husband.
As she became visibly more distressed over the course of the interviews, she told police of the affair and Purkiss' visit to her house on the night Mr Davies was killed.
Otto told police Purkiss had told her he wanted to show her what it was like to be loved and respected.
"The emotional connection was the biggest thing for me," she said.
Otto said their relationship "wasn't really physical", however admitted to the pair having a sexual relationship at least twice.
She said Purkiss had offered to help her leave Mr Davies and the pair had a conversation in late 2016 about whether they should be together.
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- Alleged killer's partner was trying to leave relationship
- Accused murderer used to shoot at Levendale
- Court hears of physical altercation before alleged murder victim was last seen
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On the stand, Purkiss said this relationship never happened.
"She was just my wife's friend," he said.
Purkiss said Otto had "tried to crack on" to him but he turned her down because of his partner Jillian Roberts, who he said he was "lucky" to be with.
Purkiss said he had received sexually explicit images sent from Otto's phone from both Otto herself and Mr Davies.
"[He] used to use Marg's phone," he said.
Phone records showed the image messages were sent in July and October 2016.
The images in question were the subject of a legal argument after which Chief Justice Blow ruled the pictures would not be shown to the jury.
Chief Justice Blow said the probative value of the images did not outweigh potential prejudice.
"It's very likely that some jurors would be shocked by the images or even the description of what they depict," Chief Justice Blow said.
"[The] poses, clothing, body parts exposed, touching of genitalia .... there would remain an unacceptable risk they would assess the evidence against the accused in an emotional way."
On the voir dire, Purkiss told the court Mr Davies had previously discussed with him a liking for having threesomes with his wife.
"Either or, two men, two women," he said.
Purkiss said he would consider it betrayal of his friend's trust for him to have had sex with Otto.
It was argued Otto and Purkiss carried out the murder due to their separate and joint resentment towards Mr Davies.
Otto told police she had wished her husband was dead because it was the only way she would get any peace.
She said her secret affair with Purkiss made her realise what she was missing out on in her marriage.
"[He] made me feel special and respected," she said.
Otto's marriage had also been strained by financial difficulties, with Mr Davies often unable to work as a tattoo artist due to persistent health issues.
The court heard Otto was working 60 hours a week to compensate for lack of income from the tattoo parlour.
Crown Prosecutor Madeline Wilson said there was evidence the couple owed between $264,000 to $320,000, including a $30,000 business loan, $40,000 tax debt and $20,000 in credit card debt.
She told co-workers her husband suffered from anxiety and depression and was moody, with her not knowing when those moods would be good or bad.
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- Father of accused's information led police to grave site
- Accused took on father role to victim's son
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- Murdered tattooist shot at close range, court hears
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- 'Blood-shedding event' occurred in accused's shed
Having become close friends in 2014, Purkiss said Mr Davies had owed him $17,800 but Purkiss said this debt had been largely repaid at the time of his friend's death.
Purkiss claimed this was in part repaid by Mr Davies giving him two motorbikes, neither of which actually belonged to Mr Davies or were in Purkiss' possession.
This contradicted other evidence where witnesses said Purkiss had told them Mr Davies still owed him several thousand dollars.
Mr Davies' frequent visits to Elderslie had also become a problem, with Mr Davies visiting 12 days in a row in May 2017 to the displeasure of Mr Purkiss' partner Ms Roberts.
He told police Mr Davies had used their friendship to access his cannabis.
"[He] comes to my place, sits in my chair, and smokes my dope until it's gone," Purkiss said.
A case to answer for murder
In the fifth week of the trial, Otto's defence unsuccessfully filed a 'no-case' application arguing the Crown had failed to prove Otto incited the murder of Mr Davies.
Mr Melick said Otto could only then be found guilty of accessory after the fact of murder.
"There is no evidence to contradict the reasonable hypothesis that the accused Otto knew of a plan to kill the deceased until sometime after the murder occurred," Mr Melick said.
"The Crown will invite the jury to assert Otto knew of Purkiss' intention to kill the deceased because of a phone call and meeting we have no idea of the contents of.
"The only evidence was her saying before in a joking manner to the effect [of] 'I wish he was dead'.
"The rhetorical question is - where is the evidence of any prior knowledge, direction?"
Mr Melick said there "could not be a weaker circumstantial case" against Otto.
Ms Wilson said a case of murder was a question of fact which should be left to the jury.
Chief Justice Alan Blow ruled Otto did have a case to answer for murder.
Upon hearing down this ruling, a member of Mr Davies' family quietly exclaimed "yes" in the back of the court.
"I do think it would be open to the jury that Otto's post-offence conduct involved such a degree of deceit and such a degree of assistance to Mr Purkiss ... that she and Purkiss [planned the murder]," Chief Justice Blow said.
"It would be open to the jury to rule out the suggested hypothesis consistent with innocence."
Chief Justice Blow said although it was true there was no direct evidence of Otto inciting Purkiss to commit the murder it was not the case that there was no evidence.
Purkiss active, Otto withdrawn
The two accused handled the events of the trial differently.
Purkiss sat in the dock listening to each witness, occasionally making notes on transcripts and looking at evidence such as photographs over his lawyers' shoulders.
At the start of the trial's fifth week, Purkiss took the stand and told the court his version of events from the night of Mr Davies' murder.
Purkiss claimed it was in fact Mr Davies who had organised for the pair to view motorcycles that night and told the court three men had come to his Elderslie property to be turned away once Mr Davies realised the bikes were stolen.
Crown prosecutor Allison Shand suggested to Purkiss he was making this up to fit the evidence of the trial, because this was the first time the court had heard any evidence of this meeting taking place.
After this alleged meeting and a subsequent alleged altercation between the two friends, Purkiss said Mr Davies drove off upset and "like an idiot."
Purkiss said outright he did not kill his best friend and Otto did not ask him to carry out the murder.
Otto, on the other hand, withdrew into herself in the dock throughout the proceedings.
In his closing address Mr Melick said his client had been evidently distressed throughout the trial.
"Compare that with Bradley Purkiss - he's arrogant. He's a master manipulator. He's a strong character," he said.
Constantly on the verge of tears, Otto began carrying a stress ball into the court.
Her breaking point came when the court was played video interviews where she admitted to her affair with Purkiss and having helped her former lover cover up her husband's disappearance.
She leaned forwards, head down with her hair covering her face, and rocked back and forth for the three days it took to play the full interviews.
Otto chose not to give evidence.
Read more from the trial
- Alternative murder site 'can't be ruled out'
- Accused's DNA found on victim's body
- Fingerprints on body unable to be matched
- Explicit images found on accused's phone
- Accused recounts day of alleged murder
- Alleged killer denies affair with co-accused
- Accused murderer denies lying to police
- Jury asked to join the dots
- No motive to kill 'best and only friend'
- Jury to continue deliberating next week
Juror loss worries
With the trial due to run six weeks, two reserve jurors were impaneled, however both were lost by the third day of the trial.
With this being a second attempt at this trial, with a first trial aborted for technical reasons in March, this prompted concern from counsel and Chief Justice Blow.
One juror was let go due to her having a sick young child, who had undergone surgery as recently as the week before the trial commenced.
A second woman said she could not remain on the trial for work purposes, for which Chief Justice Blow refused to dismiss her.
She then returned after the lunch break having called her doctor to get a medical certificate for a "long-standing" medical issue.
When questioned by Chief Justice Blow about how long she had been suffering this illness she said "since yesterday" and said she had never felt this distressed in her life due to the nature of the trial, worried she would vomit or faint in the court.
Ms Wilson said she had "grave concerns" about the woman staying on the trial and not giving the evidence the attention it required.
Chief Justice Blow agreed with the Crown.
"I accept this juror would be so angry or upset she would not give her attention to the trial," he said.
The juror was dismissed, leaving only the 12 active jurors.
Chief Justice Blow warned the remaining jurors that, should any of them become ill or experience a family emergency, the trial would be at risk.
"This is a very important trial," Chief Justice Blow said.
"It would be a tragedy if we had to abort this trial and start again with a new jury."
Fortunately for the court this was not the case, with the trial not hindered by any further difficulties in this regard.
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