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Jury hears Kevin Pettiford considered his killing of two homeless men as ‘art’

Jurors in the murder trial of a man who fatally bashed a homeless person in Tweed Heads have heard the chilling and bizarre interviews he gave to police after his arrest.

Warning: This story contains content that readers may find distressing.

Kevin James Pettiford has confessed to killing 56-year-old Andrew Whyte Murray near the Jack Evans Boat Harbour in November 2019.

The 38-year-old is also being tried for attempted murder after being caught on CCTV slashing the throat of fellow inmate Nathan Mellows in Cessnock prison five weeks later. 

The court was told the question of whether the accused had a mental-health disorder was at the core of the case, and could determine whether he is criminally responsible for his actions.

The jury has also heard police interviews with the accused about the killing of homeless man David Collin while he slept in Maroochydore, Queensland in September 2019 because they were considered by the psychiatric experts who will testify during the trial.

Homeless man David Collin, 53, was found dead in a sleeping bag outside a community centre in Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.(Supplied: Queensland Police Service)

Mr Pettiford, who called himself ‘The Hand of Death’ told police his arrest “stopped me from becoming Australia’s most prolific serial killer”.

“I was going to go overboard,” he said.

“There’s something in me that makes me want to kill people, they look at me and I just want to smash their head in.”

 Mr Pettiford told police during recorded interviews that he considered his killings to be “art”.

“Caving a man’s head in with a rock, there’s nothing more primal than that and when he’s sleeping, that’s even more brutal,” he said.

“Sometimes an artist has to suffer for his art work: I created, destroyed and now that’s it, it’s all done.

“Wouldn’t call it suffering though, I got it pretty easy; TV, books, pen and paper, roof over my head. 

“”To me this is all just one big joke, life is one big joke: you live and you die what is that?”

‘Dead inside’

The accused man told police in the hours leading up to Mr Collin’s death in Queensland he was getting drunk and watching UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in a nearby hotel before buying more alcohol and watching Hannibal on a streaming service.

He said the homeless man was “just unlucky” and had done nothing to provoke him.

“There was no anger no nothing, just blank faced and dead, that’s what I’m like inside,” Mr Pettiford said.

“I went to Maroochydore to kill, because I know there’s a lot of homeless people there.

“The less alive, no-one’s going to miss them.

“If you’re homeless and in the gutter and you’ve got nothing, obviously no-one gives a f**k about you.”

Flowers left at the scene and police vehicles where a body of a man was found.

The body Andrew Whyte Murray was found at Tweed Heads near the Queensland-New South Wales border on November 22, 2019.(ABC News: Tom Forbes)

Mr Pettiford told police he had a code that meant he would not target women.

“Lucky I have a code and have to stick by that code or no-one would be safe,” he said.

“If I was killing women we wouldn’t be talking like this, you … would be trying to kill me.”

The accused man gave conflicting evidence in various police interviews about whether his actions were planned or not.

But at one stage he told NSW Police “the next act at court, that will be a f***ing fantastic performance”.

“What you’ve got to understand is that everything is planned.”

The jury has heard Mr Pettiford does not deny the acts occurred, but that he was mentally unwell and the defence is arguing he is not criminally responsible.

The Supreme Court trial continues next week.

Justice Hament Dhanji told the jurors while the evidence they were hearing was “confronting”, a “dispassionate approach” was required.

He told the jurors they could expect to hear from psychiatric experts next week.

“It will require you to look at that material in a more forensic manner,” Justice Dhanji said.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-11-10/homeless-murder-kevin-pettiford-police-interviews/103091770 Jury hears Kevin Pettiford considered his killing of two homeless men as ‘art’

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