Friday, 15 August 2008

Shot dead for a $1500 debt

A Sydney man who killed a mobile shop owner over a $1500 debt has been sentenced to 22 years in jail.

Gaby Michael Klein, 37, was convicted in April of shooting dead Gurkan "Gary" Moustafa, 31, the owner of the Chit Chat Communications phone shop in February 2001.

Klein, formerly known as Gaby Kalischer, had gone to the Gladesville shop on busy Victoria Road to confront Mr Mustafa about the debt so that the money could be paid, the NSW Supreme Court heard.

Mr Mustafa had refused to pay the debt, believing Klein's brother, Danny Kalischer owed him $50,000 from a gambling debt.

In sentencing Klein, Justice Terence Buddin said he did not believe the murder to be premeditated.

'The offender did not embark on the plan with the intention to kill the deceased," he said.

"...[But] I am satisfied that in a moment of panic the offender chose to kill the deceased so he would not be identified."

The court heard that Klein, an arborist who had run his own business, had very good prospects for rehabilitation and that the crime was "totally out of character".

It heard that Klein was shocked and surprised by the guilty verdict and had since told a psychiatrist that 2001 "ruined my life."

"My friend died and I got charged with his murder. I choose not to remember it," he had said.

Klein's case has a chequered history. He had pleaded guilty to the murder in 2003 but withdrew that plea in July 2004.

The trial in March 2005 ended with a hung jury but he was found guilty after a retrial in September that year.

Klein was sentenced to 24 years in jail but that was quashed by the court of criminal appeal last year before he once again found guilty during the latest trial.

In sentencing Klein to 22 years in jail with a non parole period of 16 years and six months, Justice Buddin took into account Klein's "anxiety at having these proceedings hanging over his head for so long".

Klein will be released no earlier than July 2021.

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