Man sentenced to 20 years over Castle Hill murder

An Iraqi-born man has been sentenced to at least 20 years in jail for the murder of a water landscaper as he slept alongside his wife in his Castle Hill home.

Fadi Shamoun, 29, was given a maximum sentence of 27 years for the stabbing death of Richard Carruthers, 36, in the early hours of June 24, 2007 in the bedroom of the Castle Hill home he shared with Phuong Nguyen.

During a NSW Supreme Court trial, the court heard the rivalry between two companies over the contract to maintain some of Sydney's most prominent fountains was at the heart of the murder.

Mr Carruthers had worked with Dirk Marten Slotboom in the company Sydney Water Fountains before leaving to set up a rival company, Water Features Australia.

The Crown said Mr Slotboom was allegedly angry at Mr Carruthers for "stealing" some of his clients, including a lucrative contract for the City of Sydney council in 2004.

This contract included the maintenance of some of the most famous fountains in the Sydney CBD and was said to be highly lucrative.

It was alleged that, after a series of heated letters warning Mr Carruthers not to poach his clients, Mr Slotboom arranged through a series of associates for Mr Carruthers to be "bashed" for a sum of $30,000.

Shamoun and another man, given the pseudonym David Saad, travelled to Mr Carruthers's home, where Shamoun entered the bedroom and attacked Mr Carruthers about 4am.

A violent struggle occurred and Mr Carruthers died from a 13 centimetre stab wound through his back that severed a main artery.

Mr Carruthers's widow told the court she ran into the street screaming when the attacker burst into her bedroom. She suffered a laceration to her wrist.

In sentencing Shamoun today, Justice Geoff Bellew said he was satisfied that Shamoun intended to inflict grievous bodily harm on Mr Carruthers but had not intended to kill him.

Justice Bellew said there was conflicting evidence as to whether Shamoun was motivated by the promised payment and whether he in fact received any money.

He said two forensic psychiatrists gave evidence that Shamoun had an acquired brain injury, which he received during a fall from a balcony.

The defence suggested Mr Saad may have taken advantage of Shamoun's limited intelligence and convinced him to carry out the offence while he took the money.

Mr Saad has received immunity from prosecution in return for being a Crown witness.

But Justice Bellew said Shamoun did not suffer a mental illness or a severe intellectual handicap and the brain injury was not significant.

He said Shamoun had not shown any remorse and his prospects of rehabilitation were unknown.

He was sentenced to a non parole period of 20 years for Mr Carruthers's murder, with a total sentence of 27 years. He was also given a non parole period of nine months for maliciously wounding Ms Nguyen, partly accumulated.

He will be eligible for parole in September 2029.

Mr Slotboom faces a Supreme Court trial over his role in Mr Carruthers' death in January.

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