An “inept and unsophisticated” murderer who was caught because he wrapped the victim’s body in plastic that had his name on it, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Todd Nathan Kiernan, 30, was assisted by his friend Gervaise Widdowson in the attack on Dinh Lam Nguyen, 51, who was repeatedly stabbed with a knife at Kiernan’s Mahogany Creek home, east of Perth, in January last year.
They used cable ties on the body, then wrapped it in plastic and put it in a wheelie bin that was dumped — with a tree branch and a bag of cement to weigh it down — in a dam at the John Forrest National Park.
But the bin floated to the surface and a teenager later found Mr Nguyen’s body, the West Australian Supreme Court was told.
The plastic had a label with Kiernan’s name on it and there was also rubbish in the bin, which had a letter that could be traced to him.
During his trial, prosecutors alleged Kiernan killed Mr Nguyen over a $4000 drug debt owed to the victim, but Kiernan claimed the stabbing was self-defence, which the jury rejected.
Justice Stephen Hall said in sentencing remarks on Wednesday that it was a sudden and unprovoked attack on an unarmed man who was vulnerable.
He said Kiernan had been the aggressor but he was not satisfied the murder had been premeditated.
“The cover‑up did commence within a relatively short time after the killing but, in many respects, it was inept and unsophisticated,” he said.
“The use of the plastic and the wheelie bin bore all the hallmarks of crisis management.”
Justice Hall said the fact Kiernan would kill for only $4000 was an indication of his desperation and lack of principle.
“To take a life for such a small amount of money is truly shocking,” he said.
Kiernan was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 19 years to be served before he can be released on parole.
He was also sentenced to four years to be served concurrently after pleading guilty to a charge of arson for destroying Mr Nguyen’s car.
Widdowson was found guilty of murder and will face a sentencing hearing on February 13.