Two Sydney brothers have walked free from court after being acquitted of murdering a retiree who was bashed and stabbed after being dragged from his car where he had been sleeping rough.
Their lawyers had contended the case boiled down to DNA which they said only proved some sort of contact between the victim or his car, but not when, how and why it was there.
Ray Travers, 22, and Jacksun Travers, 20, pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering Peter Hofmann on the evening of June 21, 2017, at Maroubra.
The 68-year-old retired bus driver had fallen into financial hardship and was sleeping in his car for months before he was killed.
One of his six stab wounds was of such force that it snapped the handle of the knife and the blade was still embedded in his chin when police arrived.
On the day of his death, Mr Hofmann had been in good spirits when he met former bus drivers at a club before later parking his car in the usual spot.
"He had his belongings in the car - documents, blankets and a pillow," prosecutor Adrian Robertson said.
People saw him apparently asleep in the car, with his head resting on a pillow against a window and blankets over him.
The brothers lived in the area and on June 21 drank at a local hotel, attended a "party of sorts" as it was State of Origin night and spent time at the Maroubra Seals Club, Mr Robertson said.
Minutes before Mr Hofmann was attacked, there was a phone call between the brothers which the Crown alleged "was significant in terms of the events that followed".
He alleged the brothers converged from different directions at the car and attacked him.
."The fact the Crown does not have evidence of motive does not mean we cannot prove to you, beyond reasonable doubt, this (murder) charge." he said.
A taxi driver and chef testified to seeing aspects of the attack, but could not identify the assailants.
DNA on a cigarette found in Mr Hofmann's car matched that of Jacksun Travers.
But his barrister, Ertunc Ozen SC, said neither eyewitness relied on by the prosecution made any observations about the attackers smoking as they bashed him.
"Were they smoking while punching this car and beating up the deceased? Do you really accept that is reasonably possible?" Mr Ozen said.
A spot of the 20-year-old's blood was also found outside the vehicle, but this just put his client in close proximity to the car.
"There's none of his DNA - blood, fingerprints, anything like that - on Mr Hofmann, the man he's supposed to have beaten up and/or stabbed."
Tony Evers, barrister for Ray Travers, told the jurors they would find his client guilty if they accept the person who stabbed Mr Hofmann was the person who left DNA on the retiree's jumper.
But he said he must be acquitted if they find there was some other "mechanism" through which his DNA ended up on the deceased's clothing.
The younger brother was acquitted on Thursday, while his sibling was found not guilty on Friday.
Australian Associated Press