Killer 'did not intend' for victim to die, court hears
A MAN awaiting sentence for manslaughter over the shooting death of another man in Tweed Heads was on ice and in a "grossly irrational state" at the time, a court has heard.
Phillip Becker, 34, pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year over the death of Ace Hall, then 31, who was fatally shot in a Tweed Heads carpark on June 24, 2017.
Mr Hall died of a gunshot wound after being left outside Tweed Hospital the same day.
In a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday, counsel for Becker, Philip Young SC, told the court that his client did not mean to kill Mr Hall.
In his submissions, the defence barrister said Becker shot down towards Mr Hall's stomach instead of taking the "easier" shot by aiming the .44 revolver at the deceased's head.
"There was an intent to inflict grievous bodily harm not an intent to kill," Mr Young said in Sydney.
"There isn't sufficient evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the way he acted evidenced an intention to kill."
The barrister submitted that the fatal shooting did not take place as part of a drug deal gone wrong or a "rip-off", but during a meeting of people who were all "of the one team".
The issue that sparked the shooting, he said, was a dispute about a rental car that was a few days late in being returned.
The court heard that Becker shot Mr Hall while he was sitting in this car.
It also heard that at the time of the shooting Becker was "grossly affected" by ice and in a "grossly irrational state".
"This man (Becker) reached the age of 30 without interacting with the criminal justice system altogether ... He got exposed to the drug at a mature age and everything went off the rails after that," Justice Richard Button said at one point in the hearing.
In his submissions, crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell described Becker's actions as being at the "extreme level" of unreasonableness, arguing that shooting Mr Hall in the chest was "equally dangerous" as firing at his head.
"He had an intention to kill. He discharged a high-powered revolver at close quarters at the torso," Mr Campbell said.
He urged Justice Button in sentencing to take into account that the .44 revolver was never recovered and that Becker had shown little evidence of remorse since the killing.
Mr Campbell also submitted that Becker was caught by police interstate and that he had not cooperated with authorities investigating the slaying.
Earlier, the court heard victim impact statements from Mr Hall's younger sister Billie Toumeth, elder sister Tara Hall and mother Carolyne Toumeth, whose statement was read in court by detective inspector Grant Erickson from Tweed-Byron police.
"I've changed into a sad overly emotional person who can start crying at anything," the statement from Mr Hall's mother read.
"I will always have a piece of my heart broken and miss him for the rest of my life."
Becker will be sentenced on September 11.