For Dwayne ‘Doc’ Davies, tattooing was a passion, but as much as it allowed him to show off his creative side, it brought him plenty of problems along the way.
He ran Ink Addiction tattoo shop in Tasmania, but health issues meant he couldn’t work as much as he wanted to, so cash was tight.
Despite borrowing money to inject into the business, the debt was spiralling out of control.
It was also causing problems at home with his wife Margaret Otto, now 47. They’d been together 20 years and had weathered plenty
Dwayne, also 47, had a past with addiction, and although he’d stopped taking harder drugs, he still smoked cannabis, but they’d stood by each other and now Dwayne was all about family.
By 2017, he was busy restoring a rocking horse for his grandson’s upcoming birthday.
Inking had also brought him his best mate, Bradley Purkiss, now 43.
Bradley had come into his studio for a tattoo in 2011 and they’d quickly become friends. They had lots of things in common like motorbikes and tinkering in their sheds.
They were such good friends that Bradley lent Dwayne $17,800 AUD (£9,230).
Half was to go towards renovating the tattoo shop, the rest was to do up Dwayne and Margaret’s Risdon Vale home. Dwayne was paying back the money – but not in the conventional way.
There were motorbikes exchanged and even favours – Dwayne had promised to paint the kitchen in Bradley’s Elderslie home.
In 2016, Bradley had helped Margaret and Dwayne with their home renovations, too. That was when Margaret and Bradley are said to have begun a brief affair.
Later Bradley would say it was all in Margaret’s head, but the pair are believed to have had a short-lived relationship.
When it ended, Dwayne remained friends with Bradley – clueless of the betrayal. Bradley was a part of the family and Margaret confided in him over her frustrations.
She claimed her husband was a bully, and that their money problems were dragging them down.
On May 26, 2017, Bradley invited Dwayne to come and look at some Harley Davidson motorbikes. Dwayne agreed and headed to Bradley’s shed in rural southeast Tasmania.
The next day was Dwayne’s grandson’s birthday party. But when Margaret turned up to celebrate with the family, there was no sign of Dwayne.
It was highly unusual and he didn’t appear that night.
Bradley told friends and family the pair had had a disagreement. He said Dwayne had then stormed off from his place and driven away.
So, where was he? Bradley thought he might have fled from his debts.
Rather than be worried, Margaret seemed pleased her husband had gone.
She said Dwayne was back on the harder drugs and that he had likely gone to the mainland to avoid a bad deal he’d made.
Talking to one of her husband’s family members on the phone, she said that now he was gone, she was debt-free as the tattoo shop and the house were in Dwayne’s name so she could walk away from around $350,000 AUD (£181,000) of outstanding bills.
‘He won’t be coming back,’ Margaret said confidently.
Police were suspicious. Bradley was the last one to see Dwayne before he disappeared, so they tried to follow his last movements.
They found blood on the wall of Bradley’s shed, and brain matter on the floor.
They then discovered a shallow grave out in the bush at nearby Levendale.
Below the soil was Dwayne’s body. He’d been shot twice at close range – in the back and in the head.
Police determined he’d been left in the padlocked shed overnight before being driven to the makeshift grave.
All fingers pointed to Bradley – but why would he kill his best friend? And why was Margaret not surprised when she was told her husband had been found dead?
When interviewed by police, Margaret confessed she’d had an affair with Bradley and that at one point, they had talked about starting a new life together.
But she said it was long over. Instead, she’d confided in Bradley about her domineering husband and their money problems.
Margaret said Bradley had been frustrated, too – always loaning his mate money.
She broke down and said Bradley was only supposed to frighten Dwayne and he must have gone too far.
That he’d come to her house the night of Dwayne’s murder and told her she was ‘free’ and showed her an empty shotgun shell.
Bradley denied it all and said he was being set up. He said Margaret had tried it on with him several times, but he’d turned her down.
He said she had been the one to arrange the motorbike viewing that day, and three men had turned up, but Dwayne had driven off ‘like an idiot’ after they’d exchanged words.
Police didn’t believe either of them. They charged Margaret and Bradley with murder.
They were accused of plotting together to kill Dwayne – because Margaret had wanted out of her marriage, and Bradley was sick of his friend and was happy to help.
Bradley had pulled the trigger and Margaret might not have been there, but she’d played her part in the planning.
Both pleaded not guilty. At the trial this year, Bradley continued to deny his affair with Margaret.
‘She was just my friend’s wife,’ he said on the stand.
There were sexually explicit images that Margaret had sent from her home to Bradley’s home, but he said they weren’t part of a relationship.
He also denied knowing Margaret was unhappy, so that couldn’t have been a motive.
‘I didn’t know how Doc [Dwayne] was treating Marg,’ he said. ‘It’s none of my concern how he treated his family.’ He said he would have told his friend if his wife wanted him dead.
The prosecution called the murder a ‘cold, calculated execution’, and a ‘chilling betrayal of a friend and a husband’.
They said that Bradley’s story kept changing, and the motive was simply that they felt used by Dwayne – they hadn’t killed to be together.
It was revealed that Bradley had visited Margaret at work on the morning of May 26, 2017, eight hours before the killing, and likely told her what he was planning.
‘During that time Mr Purkiss could have changed his mind and Ms Otto could have intervened to save her husband’s life,’ the court heard.
The trial lasted five weeks, but in the end, Margaret and Bradley were both found guilty.
Dwayne’s loved ones were shocked Margaret had conspired against her husband – they’d considered her as part of the family.
‘My son was no saint or no angel but he was my son and I loved him very much,’ Dwayne’s dad, Glen Davies, told the court.
At the sentencing in October, Chief Justice Alan Blow described the murder as an ‘outrageous killing’.
‘The murder involved betrayal. Betrayal by Ms Otto of her husband, and by Mr Purkiss of a close friend,’ he said.
‘Mr Purkiss took advantage of Mr Davies’ friendship and trust.’ Justice Blow said it was clear Margaret had a difficult relationship with her husband and wanted him gone.
‘It seems she reasoned that if he was killed, she would be free of him and he would never trouble her again,’ he said.
Bradley was given 24 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 14 years. While Margaret was given 15 years, eligible for parole in seven and a half years. Margaret has appealed her sentence.
Dwayne was betrayed by the two people he trusted the most. They tried to suggest he was the enemy, but thanks to the plotting of Margaret and Bradley, Dwayne ended up being the victim.
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