Homeless man allegedly beaten to death with rock

A HOMELESS man was beaten to death with a rock while he slept inside a sleeping bag, police will allege.

Northern New South Wales police swooped on a bus late Tuesday afternoon, arresting Kevin James Pettiford, 34, who had been on the run for five days.

He has since been charged with murder.

Police will allege Pettiford bludgeoned well-known homeless man Andrew Murray, 56, to death between 11-11.50pm last Thursday in the Jack Evans Boat Harbour Park.

His body was found by a couple walking their dog about 11am the following day.

Police will also allege that Pettiford and Murray did not know each other and had no interaction with each other before the brutal attack.

The crime scene at Tweed Heads Jack Evans Boat Harbour Park where a man was found dead in a sleeping bag. Picture: Jodie Calcott.
The crime scene at Tweed Heads Jack Evans Boat Harbour Park where a man was found dead in a sleeping bag. Picture: Jodie Calcott.

 

Pettiford will be accused of stealing clothes from shops around the Tweed and dumping the clothes he had been wearing to try and conceal his identity.

The Bulletin understands Pettiford had even returned to the scene of his alleged crime in the days following.

NSW police chief inspector Brendan Cullen said police would allege an "item" was used in the attack.

"We believe this was a random attack on a homeless man."

He said police would allege that a "helpless" Mr Murray died from a "brutal and violent attack".

"It is quite confronting for people who came across the deceased and also for his family and friends."

You Have a Friend founder John Lee, who works with rough sleepers in Tweed Heads, said the victim was drinking with locals the night before he was killed.

"They were sitting around having a chat and a drink," Mr Lee said.

"He (Mr Murray) had just come out of hospital and was a bit of an artist, he was doing a painting for the homeless guys.

"They were very upset about his death."

"What upsets me is that there's still all the blood stains on the concrete bench where he was lying," Mr Lee said. "They should clean up."

TWEED RESIDENTS SAY PARK HAS 'DARK UNDERBELLY'

The man was allegedly bashed to death with a rock. Picture: Jodie Calcott.
The man was allegedly bashed to death with a rock. Picture: Jodie Calcott.

 

A Tweed Heads resident who witnessed the arrest late on Tuesday afternoon said police flooded the area before the arrest.

"I actually thought it was a drug bust - there were plain-clothed police officers everywhere. They had guns on their hips like it was cowboys and Indians," the resident said.

"I was in the car park next to the bus stop and I saw the police go and grab the bloke off the bus."

Pettiford did not appear in Tweed Heads Local Court yesterday.

Duty lawyer Geoff Gallagher, from Save U Legal, said he had a "very brief" conversation with his client yesterday morning.

The court heard Mr Pettiford did not seek an application for bail.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy ordered police prosecutor Sergeant Bill Chaffey to serve a brief of evidence by January 15.

Mr Pettiford's hearing was adjourned until January 22 for a brief status mention.



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