A millionaire property developer has been jailed for at least 30 years after being convicted of ordering the murder of a Scots businessman who was gunned down in Australia.
READ MORE - Hitman kills Scots tycoon in front of son
Ron Medich arranged for his former business partner, Michael McGurk, to be shot dead outside his Sydney home after their relationship soured.
Mr McGurk, 45, originally from Glasgow’s Gorbals, was killed by a single bullet to the head in front of his young son as he got out of his Mercedes in September 2009.
The shooting happened outside his home in the exclusive Cremorne area of Sydney as he was returning from running errands with his son, then aged nine.
Medich, 70, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr McGurk and the subsequent intimidation of his widow Kimberley on August 8, 2010.
But following a trial lasting more than two months at the New South Wales Supreme Court, jurors returned a guilty verdict on both charges.
Medich, who paid more than £270,000 to have the hit carried out, has now been given a maximum sentence of 39 years and told he cannot apply for parole until 2048.
Sentencing him, Justice Geoffrey Bellew said: “I am satisfied that by the early part of 2009, the decline of the relationship between the offender and Mr McGurk had led the offender to form a deep-seated hatred and provided him with a motive to have him killed.
“Directing and financing the killing of another human being is a fundamentally abhorrent and heinous crime.
“The offender treated the life of Mr McGurk as being of no value at all. Something he could simply dispose of when he thought it was in his way.
“If the offender had not done what he did, I am satisfied Mr McGurk would not have been murdered.
“It has had a catastrophic impact on the family and it would not be overstating that their lives will never be the same.”
Following Medich’s conviction, Mrs McGurk, who was threatened at her home following her husband’s murder, said it was a “great day for justice and the jury system of New South Wales.”
She added: “The damage to my family will never be repaired but the result today will allow my family to move forward.
“My children and I would like to thank everybody involved in the process from the bottom of our hearts.”
In a statement released following the sentencing, Mr McGurk’s family said: “The family are relieved and again wish to thank everyone involved in achieving this result.”
Crown prosecutor Sharon Harris told the jury Mr McGurk and Medich had once been involved in multi-million dollar business partnerships including property developments and financing.
However she said by 2009 their relationship had become “extremely hostile” and they were locked in expensive legal battles in the Supreme and Federal courts.
She added: “The two men had a number of court cases against each other, in the Federal and Supreme courts, both claiming they had been ripped off by the other, each claiming they were owed millions of dollars.
“These disputes were a significant motive for the accused to direct the murder of the deceased in 2009 and then the intimidation of his wife in 2010.”
The court heard one such feud erupted when Medich discovered that the real cost of two development sites he had given Mr McGurk £3.5 million to purchase was in fact half that amount.
The court was told Medich had developed a hatred for Mr McGurk and turned to his close friend Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari to “permanently resolve” the disputes by organising his murder.
Former boxing champion Gattellari has already been jailed over his involvement and received a discounted sentence after agreeing to give evidence against his co-accused.
Gattellari said Medich had asked him to “put an end to all this bulls***” and “find someone to kill him”.
But the defence attacked the credibility of Gattellari describing the former boxing champion as ‘scum’, ‘a spiv’, a ‘wicked man’ and ‘a rip-off merchant’ and suggested he was the sole organiser of the murder.
The prosecution acknowledged Gattellari “is never going to be awarded Australian of the Year” and was a man prepared to bend the rules - exactly the type of man you would want to arrange a murder and intimidation.
Haissam Safetli, 51, who is thought to have fired the fatal shot, is serving a seven year sentence for his role in the murder.
His accomplice Christopher Estephan, 27, who was present when Mr McGurk was shot, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Medich stood trial last year for the murder but a jury was unable to reach a verdict despite more than two weeks of deliberations and prosecutors won a court order to have him put on trial again.
Mr McGurk, a property developer who emigrated to Australia in the early 1990s, lived in Sydney with his wife and their children, Lachlan, Mia, Nicola and Luc.