Monday, 11 August 2008

24yrs' jail for plotting dad's execution

A man has been sentenced to at least 24 years in jail for murdering his 74-year-old father with his son to secure their share of a $660,000 inheritance.

The NSW Supreme Court has heard 45-year-old Michael Clark plotted the murder of Ernest "Dick" Clark with 23-year-old Ben Clark in 2005.

Ben Clark was sentenced to 14 years' jail almost a year ago for shooting his grandfather in the neck and head as the two watched football on TV and drank beer in the victim's Bexley home, in southern Sydney.

The 74-year-old was found lying in a pool of blood by his partner. He died in hospital the next day.

The judge today said while Ben Clark pulled the trigger, Michael Clark had planned the execution.

He said the man wanted his father dead because he resented him and wanted his inheritance.

The judge sentenced the 45-year-old to 30 years in jail, with a 24-year non-parole period, saying he had shown no regard for the sanctity of human life.

Michael Clark's wife, Jennifer, blew him a kiss after he was sentenced.

Outside court, Ms Clark said she loved her husband and believed he was innocent.

Ms Clark was acquitted of hindering the murder investigation in June last year, when a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to support claims she had encouraged her step-son, Ben, to concoct a false account of his experience in handling guns.

Michael Clark's solicitor, Simon Joyner, said an appeal would be lodged.

Ben Clark had claimed he was sexually abused by his grandfather.

The judge in his case said he did not believe the allegations but said he could not exclude the possibility the murder was motivated by ill will because of verbal abuse.

Much of the evidence in the trials was based on recordings from listening devices places in the Clarks' Faulconbridge home, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

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