Christopher Estephan's family departing court
The family of the man who drove the getaway car after the murder of Michael McGurk leave court. Estephan was sentenced maximum of six years and five months' jail.PT0M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37hg3 620 349 April 30, 2014
The young Sydney man who drove the getaway car after the murder of businessman Michael McGurk and then concealed the crime from police has been sentenced to at least five years in jail.
Christopher Chafic Estephan, 24, showed little emotion as NSW Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Bellew sentenced him for being an accessory after the fact to murder and two firearms offences.
Estephan was 19 on the evening of September 3, 2009, when he and another man Haissam Safetli, 47, travelled to Mr McGurk's home in Cremorne.
Sentenced: Christopher Chafic Estephan. Photo: Supplied
Safetli then shot Mr McGurk, 45, dead in front of his nine-year-old son.
Prosecutors say the murder was the outcome of a bitter dispute between Mr McGurk and another Sydney businessman who allegedly commissioned the murder.
After the shooting, Estephan drove Safetli from the scene, stopping at Rozelle and then on the M5 Motorway so that Safetli could dispose of the murder weapon, which he had broken into pieces.
The pair then continued to the south-west Sydney home of Safetli where Estephan watched as the killer burnt his clothes and the licence plates from the car.
Estephan later received payments totalling $18,000 for his role. He did not report the matter to police until confronted.
After initially being charged with murder, this charge was withdrawn at the order of a magistrate and Estephan was allowed to plead guilty to the accessory charge and two firearms charges.
Justice Bellew sentenced Estephan to a maximum of six years and five months' jail with a minimum non-parole period of five years.
With time served he will be eligible for parole on October 12, 2015.
Justice Bellew accepted Estephan's claim that, before arriving at Mr McGurk's home, he did not know the businessman was going to be murdered.
However, he rejected the young man's argument that his role was entirely spontaneous.
"The offender's subsequent concealment of the offence took place over a long period of time," Justice Bellew said.
"He had ample opportunity to consider what had happened and to reveal it.
"I'm satisfied that the offender was motivated to become involved by the prospect of financial gain. Whether or not it was [also motivated] by misguided loyalty [to Safetli] is not something I'm able to determine.
"The offending represented a choice by the offender to place the interests of the offender above those of the victim and the community more generally. That is a serious course of action which can only be adequately addressed by a sentence of full-time custody."
Justice Bellew gave the 24-year-old a 20 per cent discount for pleading guilty to the offences, accepted that he had shown genuine remorse for his role in the crime, and found that his chances of rehabilitation were "reasonable".
However, he rejected Estephan's claim that he had acted under duress in the form of threats from Safetli before and after the crime. He also gave little weight to the evidence that Estephan was suffering from severe depression and anxiety, because there was little or no evidence about when these conditions had expressed themselves or why.
The offender's family declined to comment as they left the court complex. However, they appeared distressed at the decision, with one woman bursting into tears and two others appearing to be angry.
Estephan waved to his family as he was taken away by the court sheriffs.