By Josh Bavas.
A Brisbane couple have been sentenced to life in prison for murdering mother of four Tia Landers in their home, while forcing her two friends to watch the ordeal and clean up.
Earlier this month, 44-year-old drug trafficker John Edward Harris and his 43-year-old partner Linda Eileen Appleton pleaded guilty — partway through their Supreme Court murder trial in Brisbane.
Harris, who had already been in jail for a separate manslaughter in the 1990s, will not be able to apply for parole for 27 years and Appleton for 23 years.
Ms Landers’ body was found in a shallow grave in Beerburrum State Forest at the Glass House Mountains in June 2014.
She had been hacked with a machete and shot twice in the head with a pistol.
The court heard Ms Landers visited Harris and Appleton in their Brighton home with her two friends Jake McKenzie, 23, and Ryan Morgan, 20, on June 16, 2014, to discuss the sale of drugs.
But during the visit, Appleton accused Ms Landers of stealing jewellery off her while she was in prison.
Prosecutors said Appleton and Harris then subjected Ms Landers to up to six hours of torture, where they inflicted a number of injuries including hacking her ankles with a machete to immobilise her.
The ordeal was witnessed by Mr McKenzie and Mr Morgan — who had been tied up and forced to watch on before being ordered at gunpoint to clean up the blood.
Ms Landers was then taken to another room in the house where she was shot in the head by Harris.
The offenders released the witnesses, before driving the victim’s body to Beerburrum State Forest to dump it.
The court was told Harris and Appleton both have violent criminal histories.
In 1999, Harris was sentenced to 10 years’ jail for manslaughter after shooting his housemate, wrapping his body in a sheet and dumping it in Beerburrum State Forest.
Prosecutors said his previous crime had similarities with Ms Landers’ murder.
Outside court, Ms Landers’ cousin Hayley Matthews said despite Harris and Appleton being handed life sentences, it was “not justice”.
“The only people who have received life sentences today are those who loved Tia, especially her children who are now left to live the rest of their lives without their mother,” she said.
“The brutal, depraved, vicious and animalistic way in which my cousin Tia Landers was tortured and murdered is not the way in which we her family wish for Tia to be remembered.
“Tia was a vivacious, spirited, kind and fun-loving young lady, whose passion for life was infectious.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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