Former bikie John
Weston jailed for at least 25 years for murder of Laurie Starling
A former Rebels bikie member will
spend at least 25 years and six months in jail for murdering
well-known custom car builder Laurie Starling in West Gosford.
John Richard Weston, 37, was found
guilty in March of murdering the 29-year-old outside his acclaimed
Central Coast business The Chop Shop in July 2014.
Justice Stephen Rothman in the NSW
Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced Weston to 34 years behind bars
with a non-parole period of 25 years and six months for the
"detestable and gravely reprehensible" killing.
Crown prosecutor Trevor Bailey
told the jury during the trial that Mr Starling had bought an
expensive motorbike "prized within the motorcycle community" from
another custom vehicle builder, who had a dispute with a high
ranking member of the Rebels.
Rebels members paid Mr Starling a
visit, demanding the bike and threatening to hurt him if he did not
hand it over.
Mr Starling, the court heard, gave
up the bike but, feeling "cheated", he asked an influential member
of the motorcycle community to help him get it back. This did not
sit well with the Rebels, the court heard.
The Crown's case was that Weston
approached Witness G, who was also a bikie, and said "they were
going to go to the Chop Shop" to "give Mr Starling a touch up".
On the evening he was killed, Mr
Starling had been working late and was in the process of locking up
his shop gate when he was shot.
A couple cleaning a property
nearby reported hearing cracking sounds and a man shouting, "No, you
bastard," before he started screaming.
A man picking his sister up from a
dance studio noticed Mr Starling's car in the driveway of the Chop
Shop, revving loudly and releasing exhaust fumes, but not moving.
"According to a trail of blood
spots leading up to the car, Mr Starling appears to have been shot
near the gate entrance and moved a short distance to the driver's
seat of his car where he collapsed and died at the wheel," Mr Bailey
told the jury.
While the jury did not have to
determine who the gunman was to prove the charge, the Crown's case
was that it was Weston who pulled the trigger, according to Witness
Weston later told Witness G: "We
are not going to jail ... if someone is going to jail, it would be
The Crown also told the jury that
another witness saw Weston place dark clothes in the washing machine
when he returned to his home that evening.
The following day, the court
heard, Weston told another person, who could only be identified as
Witness A, to drive to an area of bush in Gosford where he picked up
a jumper, track suit pants and a gun.
Witness A saw the firearm that he
had fetched from the bush being cut up with an oxyacetylene torch
and then the pieces were thrown from a bridge in to the water, the
Weston pleaded not guilty to
murder, with his barrister Gabriel Wendler telling the jury his
client's case was that he was present when Mr Starling was shot but
was not part of any plan to kill or injure him.