Coffs couple sentenced for murder

A COFFS Harbour couple has been handed separate sentences for the brutal murder of local man Dennis Burns in 2012.

Michele Kathleen Moore, 51, and Brendan James Price, 44, appeared in the Sydney Supreme Court on Friday for murdering Mr Burns, 50, outside his Coffs Harbour home.

Moore's son, James Kevin Moore, who fatally struck Mr Burns with the wooden handle of a mattock following a trivial dispute about drugs, had previously been sentenced to 18 years behind bars.

On the morning of October 28, 2012, James Moore had visited a drug supplier in Woolgoolga and offered to buy cannabis for Mr Burns.

Mr Moore told Mr Burns there would be an increased price for the drugs causing an aggressive argument between the pair.

At about 3pm, Mr Moore seemingly made an attempt to calm the situation by sending Mr Burns a text which read - "one more bad call or text, this is your warning, pull up".

Mr Moore then contacted his mother, who was at home with her husband, Brendan Price, and informed her of the matter.

In an effort to defend her son, Michele Moore contacted Mr Burns via a text message which read - "Don't f*** with people you don't know. James, mum and dad f***wit go it."

A few minutes later she sent - "You got a problem with James, you got a problem with his kin and we no Fernando too d***head" (sic).

James then sent two text messages to his mother which read - "He's still going, says he waiting for me and says I'm out of town and says I'm a big girl hiding behind mummy".

"I want to go kick his teeth in, its message after message".

Ms Moore, fired up over the way in which Mr Burns was dealing with her son, decided that she would take her son to confront Mr Burns in order to resolve the festering dispute.

She armed herself with a hobby hammer before leaving her house with Mr Price.

At 4:15pm they collected James who was holding a wooden mattock handle and they then drove to Mr Burns's Collingwood St home.

When they arrived at the scene, Mr Price also armed himself with a fishing rod.

After initial confrontation, Mr Burns threatened Ms Moore with a number of knives.

Mr Moore and Mr Price then stepped forward, and after an initial blow was delivered by Mr Moore, Ms Moore stepped forward and hit Mr Burns on his forehead with the hammer.

This caused a laceration to Mr Burn's scalp and Ms Moore then dropped the hammer.

A further series of blows was delivered by Mr Moore to Mr Burns. Those blows caused Mr Burns to fall to the ground where Mr Moore administered the final blow causing his death.

Ms Moore then told her son to dispose of the mattock handle in an adjoining property before she drove all three of them away from the scene.

At trail, Michele Moore had expressed regret over her "stupid" and "silly" decision to drive her then-24-year-old son to the scene of the crime.

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Peter Garling said Michele was the only person who could have stopped the initial conflict from escalating.

"What was called for in these circumstances was not to take Mr James Moore to the scene.... but rather, to stay well away from the scene and to enable time to pass and tempers to cool," Justice Garling said.

"(Michele) was the one person who could, by her mature conduct, have discouraged Mr James Moore from engaging in this violent assault.

"On the contrary, she encouraged and assisted him in his conduct. Then she went to some lengths, including lying to the police, to cover up the true extent of the crime, and particularly, her involvement in it."

Michele Moore was sentenced to a 22-year prison term with a non-parole period of 15 years.

Brendan Price was sentenced to 18 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2024.

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