Life in jail for 'brutal' murder
A BUNDABERG man has been sentenced to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of the "senseless and brutal" 2008 murder of his wife in which he used a log splitter to smash her head as she slept.
David Jeffrey Miller, 48, showed no emotion when the four-man, eight-woman jury delivered its guilty verdict after just three hours of deliberation, following a seven-day trial in Bundaberg Supreme Court.
Miller claimed he had killed his wife so she would not have to go back to jail on drug production charges the pair were facing, after police raided their home in May 2008 and found more than 140 marijuana plants and 35kg of the harvested drug.
They found a further 140 plants when they returned to investigate the murder.
Miller admitted to killing his wife, but claimed it had been part of a suicide pact the pair had made.
His defence said he was suffering from an "abnormality of mind", but psychiatrists gave varying evidence on whether that was actually the case.
During his sentencing, in which Miller also pleaded guilty to producing and possessing dangerous drugs, the court heard he was on a suspended sentence for growing more than 1500 marijuana plants on a commercial scale in 2003.
"(The murder) was a brutal, violent act," prosecutor Greg Cummings said.
"Mr Miller killed his wife when she was at her most vulnerable."
Mr Cummings said he did not believe Mrs Miller had wanted to die.
"It was the act of a man who decided to take out his problems on his partner," he said.
"There was no suicide pact."
Defence barrister Carl Heaton said his client had had a tough upbringing, never knowing his father and ending up in a foster home.
Justice Duncan McMeekin sentenced Miller to life in jail, with sentences of up to two-and-a-half years imposed for the drugs charges, all of which will run concurrently.
"This was a brutal, senseless murder," Justice McMeekin said.