National

Men jailed over ‘vicious’ SA murder

By AAP Newswire

An Adelaide bikie will spend at least 22 years of a life sentence behind bars for the "vicious, cruel and totally unnecessary" murder of a man who intervened during a drug-debt collection.

Mikel Higgins, a member of the an outlaw motorcycle gang, was last year found guilty of murdering Ben Gravett by stabbing him in the neck at suburban Christie Downs in December 2016.

A second man, 23-year-old Jesse Hunt, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years' jail with a six-year, 10-month non-parole period after he was found guilty of Gravett's manslaughter.

In sentencing on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Kevin Nicholson said Higgins had relied on the violent reputation of outlaw motorcycle gangs or back-up from his "group of thugs" on the night of Mr Gravett's death.

"It is common knowledge that many many members of outlaw motorcycle gangs see themselves as operating outside the law," he said.

Higgins and his group had already forced their way into another house when they arrived at the block of flats, in Adelaide's south.

During the trial, jurors heard they had come to the complex to collect a drug debt.

They bypassed a group of friends, including Mr Gravett, and barged into a flat uninvited, but the man they were looking for was not there.

Justice Nicholson said the other people at the flats were "instantly cowered into submission".

"All, that is, except one man," the judge said.

Mr Gravett came to the defence of a woman inside the flat and struck Higgins on the back of the head with a metal pole

In an act of retaliation, Higgins directed his group to chase him until he was eventually caught and punched by Hunt.

Higgins, 35, then used a kitchen knife to stab him 11 times, and Mr Gravett bled to death at the scene.

Justice Nicholson said Higgins had behaved in a "frighteningly aggressive manner" on the night of the attack, leading to the senseless death of Mr Gravett.

"The vicious, cruel and totally unnecessary killing of Ben Gravett that night has brought upon family members and friends a world of pain and anguish," he said.

Taking into account time already served, Hunt will be eligible for parole in 2023 and Higgins in 2039.

A third man, Korii Gebhardt, also faced trial over the murder but was acquitted by the jury of all charges.