Paid to kill: Qld’s hit men and wannabe contract killers
Whether it's over jealousy, hate, anger, love, revenge or power, contract killings capture the imagination of the public for their cold-blooded nature.
A recent study by the Australian Institute of Criminology found contract killings accounted for just two per cent of murders in Australia, with most sparked by the end of relationships.
We take a look at some of the state's most notorious contract killers, those who got cold feet or knocked back a "job'', and some of our unsolved "hits''.
Werner, the former boyfriend of ex-flight attendant Theresa Dalton, was convicted over the murder plot of Dalton's husband, Malcolm Stewart, in 2010.
Dalton, 69, herself was finally jailed last week (March 22) for six years.
She screamed from the dock "you've got it wrong" as a Brisbane Supreme Court jury found her guilty of cajoling Werner to offer another man, Matthew Neels, $40,000 to carry out the murder.
The court heard Dalton had "pulled the strings" by giving Werner, her then boyfriend, a photograph of Mr Stewart, his address and a $20,000 down payment for Werner's "old acquaintance" Matthew Neels.
Werner met Neels at Burleigh Heads to give him the cash, and promised another $20,000 would follow once Stewart was murdered.
But Neels never carried out the plot and proved to be "more of a thief than a killer" by keeping the money for himself and moving to NSW.
It can now be revealed that Dalton was found guilty of the same allegations in 2019 and was sentenced to six years' jail, but her conviction was quashed on appeal and a retrial ordered.
At the start of her second trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, prosecutor David Finch said Dalton became "fixated" on having Mr Stewart killed after their relationship broke down irretrievably in 2007, and a fight ensued over assets.
Mr Finch said the couple had accumulated significant property over their 20-year marriage and all of Dalton's "problems would be solved" if her ex-husband disappeared.
"Paying someone $40,000 to kill Malcolm Stewart was far less expensive than … dividing up their marital assets," Mr Finch said.
Drug dealer Cory Breton told a friend a hit had been put on his life just days before he was bound, bashed and thrown in a Logan dam in a toolbox.
Earlier this month, a jury took just over two hours to convict four men for the 'breathtakingly evil" deaths of Breton and Iuliana Triscaru, whose bodies were found in the toolbox.
Stou Daniels, Davy Malu Junior Taiao, Trent Michael Thrupp and Waylon Ngaketo Cowan Walker had denied murdering the pair on January 24, 2016.
But Daniels, Taiao and Thrupp were each found guilty of two counts of murder.
Walker was cleared of the murder charges, but convicted of manslaughter.
In February last year co-accused Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 28, was given two life sentences for the grisly killings.
Webbstar Latu, 36, also pleaded to manslaughter.
And Tepuna Tupuna Mariri, 29, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and two of torture. He was sentenced to 13 years' prison in July last year.
Crown prosecutor David Meredith told a jury Triscaru and Breton were lured to a Kingston unit before being taken to a dam and dumped.
The drug dealers were believed to have died from asphyxiation and a court heard they were "calling out and pleading for their lives as they died".
Gold Coast millionaire businessman John Chardon, found guilty in 2019 of the manslaughter of his estranged wife Novy, is alleged to have tried to hire Philippino man Marshall Aguilor to kill Novy.
A court heard Chardon, who died in prison last October, asked Aguilor to hire three hit men and push his wife off a cliff and then hide her remains in a cave.
Aguilor told a court he met Chardon via an Asian dating website and, during a meeting in the Philippines in early 2012, was asked to organise the hit.
"He told me that he needed three hit men,'' Aguilor told the court.
Asked under cross-examination why Chardon needed three, Aguilor replied, through an interpreter: "So it's not very hard to hide the body".
Aguilor testified that Chardon wanted to lure his wife, whose body has never been found, to the Philippines to be killed.
Chardon allegedly asked Aguilor if he would carry out the murder and, if not, to find someone who could.
"If you can find someone I will pay,'' Chardon was alleged to have told Aguilor.
They also discussed "finding a cliff" and hiding her body in a cave where her remains would eventually be found "so the children find out", Aguilor said.
"He said, 'If you can find someone I will pay $US10,000'," Aguilor told the court.
Marshall Aguilor said Chardon asked him: "Can you kill?"
He said Chardon also paid him to buy a gun with a silencer
But Aguilor says he never bought the gun, nor did he know how to find a hit man.
"I stayed calm and composed myself. I asked him who is it that you want to kill … he said my wife," Aquilor told the court.
"He told me if you can't do this, can you help with someone who will do it and I will manage it."
"He would pay $US10,000 … if I can find a hit man.
"He wants me to find a cliff … there are less people … it won't attract attention … and that he can just leave her there."
"But in reality, I don't know anyone."
MICHAEL JOHN KINSELLA
Bitter husband Jim Lester hired a hit man to kill his estranged wife, a court was told in 2003.
It was the second time Lester, 49, had been convicted of arranging the murder of Ingrid Lester, 35, at her Hervey Bay home in November 2002.
Lester won an appeal for his first conviction and the case went back to a Supreme Court retrial.
Prosecutor Dan Boyle told a court Lester had been on bail for an attack on Ingrid Lester's boyfriend, Alisdair Morrison, when he hired Michael John Kinsella to kill his wife.
Mr Boyle said Kinsella went to Ingrid Lester's home and stabbed her 43 times.
Kinsella is serving a life sentence for her murder after pleading guilty in 2004.
He said Kinsella was offered $10,000 for the murder.
A court heard phone records indicated Lester had made a series of calls to Kinsella just before the murder.
STEVEN JOHN CLARK
Clark pleaded not guilty to organising an unknown man to shoot his then wife Sonya Clark in 2004, but a jury found he was lying and convicted him three years later.
A court heard he wanted custody of his two children from a relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Sonya Maree Clark, and offered several people $10,000 to kill her.
An unknown person shot her in the stomach when she answered the door of her Brassall, Ipswich home on the evening of April 16, 2004.
She lost part of her breast, required major surgery, and will be on medication for the rest of her life.
As many as 12 shotgun pellets remain lodged in her body but, miraculously, she survived.
At the time of the shooting, Clark was in Quilpie 1000km west of Brisbane.
The court heard Clark sold his four-wheel drive to pay the hit man.
Clark shopped around for someone to shoot his wife, offering $10,000 to several people including an associate of the Nomads bikie gang.
He was upset that she had begun seeing another man and wanted money from him in a property settlement.
The pair were also locked in an acrimonious custody dispute involving their children.
The gunman has never been found.
"Society cannot condone such a gross over-reaction," Justice Douglas said.
"It falls into the worst category of attempted murder.
UNKNOWN MAFIA HITMAN
FOR a retired mafia godfather, Pasquale "Peter'' Barbaro lived a remarkably quiet life in Runcorn until a hit man came calling. Not once, but twice.
Barbaro's neighbours thought the unassuming 58-year-old was a retired council employee from Canberra who had settled in Brisbane for a relaxing life with his young bride and five-year-old daughter.
But Barbaro had been the boss of the Calabrian mafia's Canberra cell until he ran afoul of the criminal organisation.
Fearing for his life, he started giving information to the National Crime Authority in 1989 in secretly recorded interviews.
Some of it pertained to the 1984 mafia murders of Melbourne gangsters Rocco Medici and Giuseppe Furina.
Medici's ears were cut off before both bodies were dumped in the Murrumbidgee River near the Calabrian mafia enclave of Griffith, NSW.
In 1989 Barbaro had to move from a bolt hole in Daisy Hill in Logan after someone shot through a window as he lay in bed watching TV with his wife.
He was hit in the left shoulder and got up and ran before being hit with a second shotgun blast in the right shoulder.
Barbaro then moved to Runcorn, but he was not safe there either.
Early on March 18, 1990, he went out to get his Sunday paper and was just coming back inside when his wife heard angry voices on the front lawn.
She looked out the window to see Barbaro having a loud argument in Italian with a long haired man.
The argument lasted for about three minutes before the stranger stabbed Barbaro in the shoulder and shot him in the chest with a handgun.
Witnesses saw the hit man, who has never been found, driving off "looking smug and satisfied''.
The hitman's car had been bought through a newspaper ad a week earlier and was found dumped in Woodridge an hour after the killing.
Police immediately suspected Barbaro's assailant was a hit man with a wig and fake beard.
Police alleged that he planned to have the trio murdered in Queensland in return for a payment of $150,000.
But the ambitious criminal - known in Gold Coast underworld circles as a "Carl Williams wannabe''- met his match as he stopped for lunch in Ballina, where detectives who had been tailing Ward arrested him.
He was convicted and served four years in a NSW prison for soliciting and proposing murder, before being extradited to Queensland in 2014 to finally face trafficking allegations.
During that Southport Magistrates Court case it was revealed Ward approached a person in northern NSW to kill the two customers and another associate.
But the "hit man" he approached was an undercover police officer.
Ward also pleaded guilty to trafficking and was later sentenced for that.
ROBERT WILLIAM BATCHELOR
Batchelor was recruited in 2008 by spurned lover Robert Mitchell to murder the daughter of his former girlfriend in an act "of cold blooded" revenge.
Batchelor, a drug-addict, was offered $400 for drugs by Mitchell in return for the contract.
He was sentenced to 13 years in jail after pleading guilty to attempted murder.
A court heard the pair discussed how the attack would be orchestrated, including hatching a plan for Batchelor to "wear a beanie and rubber gloves so that he could not be recognised or leave any fingerprints."
The daughter, who lived with her mother in Brisbane's southern suburbs, was stabbed in the chest and arms before being able to run away.
The court heard Mitchell committed suicide while on remand in jail.
"It was a cold-blooded heartless crime committed for a few hundred dollars worth of drugs," Prosecutor Michael Lehane said.
Scott Andrew Jobling was convicted in 2010 of procuring a university student hit man to kill his former girlfriend, Rockhampton flower-seller Suzanne Standing, who was found brutally slain at her home five years earlier.
A Supreme Court jury in Mackay took just two hours to find Jobling, then 38, guilty of convincing his friend Beau Hinschen to commit the murder.
Jobling was sentenced to life in jail.
Jobling had faced an earlier Supreme Court trial which was aborted.
The trial heard Standing, 30, the mother of Jobling's then five-year-old son, was attacked at her North Rockhampton home as she left to go to her job selling flowers on the night of August 5, 2005.
An autopsy found she had been strangled and stabbed to death.
The trial heard Jobling procured Standing's murder by convincing Hinschen, a friend and university student, to commit the murder.
Hinschen, 24, was convicted by a Supreme jury in Rockhampton of Standing's murder and is also serving life in jail.
SILVANUS SATYA NAIDU
The paranoid husband claimed he tried to hire a hit man to murder his wife's Facebook friend, James Asher Kumar, because he was suffering major stress including the impact of the 2011 Brisbane floods.
But the ham-fisted plot failed as the hit man turned out to be an undercover policeman.
A court heard Naidu was so upset when he wrongly thought his wife of 28 years was going to leave him and move to Sydney that he tried to hire an assassin.
Instead of acting rationally and speaking with his wife, who had no intention of leaving him, Naidu, a church and charity worker, resorted to extreme measures.
Naidu originally approached a workmate to see if he could have Kumar beaten up.
The workmate reported the matter to police when it became clear Naidu was considering killing Kumar to get him out of his family's life.
The workmate eventually put Naidu in contact with a "hit man" from New Zealand named "Moses".
But the hit man was in fact a police covert operator who met with Naidu to work out the details of the murder.
The court was played covert police tapes in which Naidu suggested killing Kumar by pushing him over a cliff in a car, shooting him or strangling him.
Ms Marco said the price for the job was $5000 but Naidu had handed over only $500 -
after bizarrely offering to pay for the hit with a cheque from the 2011 Flood Relief Fund -
before he was arrested.
He was sentenced to seven years' jail in 2012.
MICHAEL JAMES KENNY
A plot to murder a Brisbane mother-of-three at the centre of a bitter family custody dispute fell apart when the hired hit man chickened out and ratted out his co-conspirators to police.
The Brisbane Supreme Court was told Michael James Kenny was contracted by the estranged husband of the 30-year-old mother, who cannot be named, to murder her in cold-blood.
The plot involved a staged "break and enter gone wrong'' and was designed so that the husband, who also cannot be named, could gain full-time custody of their children.
The court was told Kenny bungled two attempts to carry out the planned execution.
He eventually lost his nerve after the second botched hit at the woman's home in Brisbane's westside in 2013.
Prosecutor Claire Kelly said Kenny - after being threatened by the woman's husband for failing to carry out the murder - eventually contacted police to confess he had been hired carry out a hit.
He then dobbed in his three co-conspirators, including the woman's husband.
Kenny, then 22, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to murder.
He was sentenced to a four-year, wholly suspended jail term.
Originally published as Paid to kill: Qld's hit men and wannabe contract killers