Bernadette Burns, 22, was on trial for helping her friend, Brittney Jade Dwyer, 20, rob Dwyer’s grandfather’s house in Craigmore, SA, which resulted in an attack that caused the death of 81-year-old Robert Whitwell.
Dwyer allegedly enlisted the help of two friends, Burns and Shelby Holmes, to enter her grandfather’s home and rob him of a pile of money they believed him to have kept in his shed.
Burns pleaded guilty to committing an intentional act of violence while undertaking the robbery, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years without parole.
Controversially, the victim’s granddaughter, Dwyer, confessed to murder before claiming at the last minute that the victim may have sexually abused her as a child.
Prosecutor Kim Pearce said the the ‘one minute to midnight’ defense to likely be ‘simply an invention designed to give her an explanation for why she acted as she did.’
Dwyer’s lawyer, Craig Caldicott, said that since his client was unsure if her ‘flashbacks’ of abuse were real or not, it would not be part of her defence.
Dwyer’s father, and son of the victim, described his dad as a ‘great man, who loved his family.’