Sunshine Coast man jailed for life

Victim: Brian Heathcote.
Victim: Brian Heathcote.

A SUNSHINE Coast man who admitted he punched a Brisbane radio announcer between 30 and 50 times in the face because he chatted up his fiancee was jailed for life yesterday.

A jury found former Buderim man Tyson Alfred Barden, 22, guilty of murder.

The Supreme Court in Brisbane heard that radio announcer Brian Heathcote was attacked as he walked home from a pub at Nundah on January 21, 2007.

Mr Heathcote, 39, died from asphyxiation caused by serious head injuries from the attack.

During the week-long trial, the court was told Barden had decided to attack Mr Heathcote because he had tried to chat up his fiancee.

He followed Mr Heathcote from the pub, bashed and robbed him, and then left him to die.

CCTV footage showed Barden leaving the hotel seconds after Mr Heathcote.

Witnesses said Barden returned a short time later bragging about having “just kicked the shit out of that guy”.

Barden admitted to police he had punched Mr Heathcote between 30 and 50 times in the face, and kicked him in the face and body up to 13 times, but denied trying to kill him.

The court was told of the horrific injuries Mr Heathcote suffered in the attack: his face had been caved in, his top jaw had been completely fractured so it was hanging loose, and he had severe internal bleeding.

In handing down the mandatory life sentence to Barden for the murder, Justice Margaret Wilson deplored the attack.

“It was senseless violence, completely unjustified by any behaviour of Mr Heathcote,” Justice Wilson said.

“You not only destroyed the life of Mr Heathcote; you devastated the lives of his family.”

The guilty verdict also devastated Alexis Kathryn Jarvis, who was in the back of the court to see her fiancee jailed for life.

Jarvis was sentenced to 18 months’ jail with immediate parole in September last year after pleading guilty to lying to police about Barden’s involvement in the attack in an attempt to protect him. She was comforted by family members as she left the court.

Brian Heathcote, formerly of Bundaberg, was remembered as a man with a passion for radio by former colleagues and friends.

As well as doing voice overs and copywriting, he had a love of camping, and loved to return to Bundaberg.

Barden, who was just 19 at the time of the attack, and Jarvis, 18, were arrested in Buderim after police from Brisbane swooped.

Barden was charged with murder and robbery after Mr Heathcote’s watch and mobile phone were stolen.

The jury took just three hours to convict Barden, who had pleaded not guilty.

Mr Heathcote’s friends and family cried in court as Barden was sentenced.

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