Guilty pair lead police to Kiwi's body in bush

  • 14/07/2015
Guilty pair lead police to Kiwi's body in bush

By Caitlin Guilfoyle

Two men who led police to the Victorian bush grave where they burnt a New Zealander's body have been jailed for manslaughter.

South Australians Mark James Moreland, 37, and Christopher Nathan Tippins, 30, told detectives where to find Gordon Hamm's body after a jury found them guilty of his manslaughter.

The pair, with co-accused Tai Thorp, ambushed Mr Hamm, 34, on a bridge in the Victorian town of Nelson, near the South Australian border, in July 2013.

Mr Hamm, from Waikato, was assaulted with a rifle and bundled into a car.

During their trial, Moreland and Tippins insisted they had delivered Mr Hamm to bikies over a debt and that he was alive when they last saw him.

But when they were found guilty of manslaughter, the pair led police to his body, buried in bush about 130km away from Nelson.

They told police Mr Hamm's death was a "mystery" and he died suddenly, possibly from a heart attack.

They said he was scared and hyperventilating after he was put in the car.

Moreland and Tippins said they wrapped Mr Hamm's body in a carpet and burnt it with their clothes in the bush grave.

Justice Michael Croucher said it was an "extraordinary turn of events", but the pair leading police to Mr Hamm's remains showed some acceptance of responsibility and remorse.

He took that into account when he sentenced Moreland and Tippins to 12 years' jail on Monday, with a minimum non-parole period of nine years.

"It's unlikely the body would have been found," Justice Croucher said.

Forensic analysis was unable to determine Mr Hamm's cause of death.

Mr Hamm had won more than $A5000 on pokies and likely bought drugs shortly before his abduction.

Prosecutors had alleged the trio attacked him to steal the drugs and money, but Justice Croucher said he wasn't satisfied with that.

He couldn't exclude that they had ambushed Mr Hamm to hand him over to others.

Thorp was sentenced to a minimum seven years' jail when the trio came before the Supreme Court of Victoria. Justice Croucher said the 22-year-old played a lesser role.