Damien Joseph Jelicic, left, following his arrest.
Damien Joseph Jelicic, left, following his arrest. Greg Higgs

Murderer's chance to join gang an elaborate sting operation

A MURDERER who admitted beating a pensioner to death in order to earn membership in a crime gang - that was really a police sting operation - has been jailed for life.

Damien Joseph Jelicic will serve a 20-year non-parole period for fatally striking Nick Piscioneri, 80, more than 10 times.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said Jelicic's prison time would be longer if not for his acute brain injury, which experts agreed had contributed to his "impulsive, uncontrolled" attack.

Justice David Peek said that in no way excused Jelicic's conduct - nor his continuing refusal to accept responsibility for his actions.

"You told (experts) 'I lost control, I just f--king whacked him'," he said.

"You continue to lie to the court in this matter ... you simply cannot or will not face up to what you did.

"You have displayed no contrition, you have displayed no evidence of having commenced on the path to rehabilitation."

A sketch of Damien Joseph Jelicic.
A sketch of Damien Joseph Jelicic. Tim Ide

Jelicic, 58, was found guilty by a jury of murdering Mr Piscioneri at Hendon in March 2013.

The pensioner was a friend of Jelicic's mother and had previously loaned the younger man money - when he refused on this occasion, Jelicic bludgeoned him with a 40cm metal pole.

In sentencing on Tuesday, Justice Peek said police targeted Jelicic as a suspect within days of the murder and caught him out with a complex sting operation.

"Operatives played the roles of a fictitious crime gang (including) a powerful crime boss and a mid-level member who befriended you and suggested you join," he said.

Murder victim Nicola Piscioneri, 80, of Hendon
Murder victim Nicola Piscioneri, 80, of Hendon

"Their objectives were to record any admissions by you, and to obtain from you information which showed that your admissions were not just to ingratiate yourself."

He said that, by February 2014, Jelicic was so keen to prove his worth that he confessed to Mr Piscioneri's murder.

"You also demonstrated that you had esoteric knowledge of a number of matters - knowledge only the murderer would have," he said.

That knowledge included the location of Mr Piscioneri's wallet - down the drain behind a Hendon hotel.

Justice Peek said he would sentence Jelicic on the basis his admissions were "generally correct", and that he "lost his temper" when Mr Piscioneri denied him money.

"You have caused irreparable harm and loss (to Mr Piscioneri's family) ... you should reflect on what you heard in their victim impact statements," he said.

He said prosecution and defence agreed a 20-year minimum term was appropriate given Jelicic's "major cognitive disorder, caused by an unrelated assault in February 2007.

"I am not in a position to reject or discount the medical evidence," he said.

Jelicic's non-parole period was backdated to his arrest in February 2014.