A man who was found guilty of bashing and killing his travel companion at Poochera, on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula in 2022, will face at least 10 years behind bars.

Key points:

  • Adam Troy Bennett has been sentenced following a fatal attack on his travel companion
  • Bennett pleaded guilty to the manslaughter Peter Hillier
  • Mr Hillier’s sister cheered in the courtroom after the sentence was handed down

Adam Troy Bennett has been handed a 13-year sentence, with a non-parole period of 10 years, for killing Peter Hillier during a drunken fight.

During today’s sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Sandi McDonald said the evidence fell under the “higher end of the scale of seriousness” in the offence of manslaughter.

“It involved a senseless, savage beating of an older, weaker and infirm man who was dependent on you for his care,” she told an emotionless Bennett as his verdict was handed down.

“You resulted to violence quickly and explosively when you slapped Mr Hillier across the face causing his nose to bleed.”

In May 2022, Bennett and Mr Hillier, both from NSW, were travelling throughout the Eyre Peninsula in a motorhome and had rented a holiday house in Venus Bay, 231 kilometres north-west of Port Lincoln.

The court heard a drunken fight broke out in which Bennett tried to force Mr Hillier into the motorhome, before killing him.

“It involved you physically manhandling Mr Hillier into his own vehicle when he didn’t want to do what you wished,” Justice McDonald said.

“Then once he was helpless on the ground, you used a weapon, a rock, to ram it into his face when he was no threat to you.”

The court heard that Bennett changed Mr Hillier’s clothes, something he claimed was to clean him up.

Prosecutors disputed that, and said it was to cover up the crime.

“You then beat him to death … your conduct was made all the worse by failing to provide Mr Hillier with any medical care,” Justice McDonald told the court.

“I accept you are now remorseful, it is just unfortunate that your remorse did not come sooner.”

In January 2023, Bennett pleaded not guilty to murder and he was committed to stand trial. 

However, in August 2023, the prosecution abandoned the trial after accepting Bennett’s guilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter. 

Peter Hillier’s sister (left) outside of court.(ABC News: Shari Hams)

Peter Hillier’s sister cheered with joy after the sentence was handed down.

“Our family would like to express our gratitude to the DPP and SAPOL for the support and empathy they have shown us throughout this long process,” the family wrote in a statement provided to the media.

“We are also very thankful to Judge McDonald for her fair, detailed and accurate description of events … we feel the impact on our family in her judgement was heard and acknowledged.

“We are relieved that the court process has now concluded for us, and though we are satisfied with the outcome, the sadness of losing our dear Peter will be with us always.”

While the court previously heard that Bennett gave conflicting evidence to both police and a psychologist, Justice McDonald said that was due to cognitive impairment.

“You were highly intoxicated as these events occurred … it follows you have not been deliberately untruthful about these matters, but rather your account is a product of you attempting to make sense of what occurred,” Justice McDonald said.