Former anti-Islamic State fighter Ashley Dyball has been found not guilty of murdering Samuel Thompson after a plan to rob the cannabis dealer of money.
Dyball, 28, was also found not guilty of manslaughter, but was found guilty of the charge of interfering with a corpse.
The jury took five hours to reach a verdict.
Mr Thompson was killed on March 7, 2018 at Bald Hills.
The jury heard during the trial Mr Thompson had been looking for a new cannabis supplier on the day he met another man, Roberto Vincenzo Boscaino, at his Bald Hills home.
The court was told of a plan between Boscaino and Dyball to rob Mr Thompson and to then kill him.
Mr Thompson was most likely killed after a blow to the face with a tomahawk or strangled before he was stuffed into a toolbox and buried in a shallow grave at the Beerburrum State Forest, the court heard.
Boscaino was found guilty of Mr Thompson’s murder last year after a separate trial and is serving a life sentence behind bars.
Dyball pleaded not guilty to the murder.
His lawyers argued there was no evidence directly linking him to the death.
Dyball fought with the Kurdish YPG militia against IS in Syria in 2015 before returning to Australia.
Detective Inspector Campbell Hill said the killings were a tragedy.
“The impacts of this will not only be felt by the particular families involved and the associates and relatives, but also the south-eastern community,” he said.
Others were at the property at the time
Inspector Hill said police were in the process of identifying next of kin, family and friends and building a picture of why the couple, who lived in metropolitan Adelaide, were at the property yesterday.
He said other people were at the property at the time of the killings, but police were not seeking anyone other than the charged man in relation to the deaths.
“We’ve certainly spoken to other people that were present at the address and the investigation is working its way through that process,” he said.
He said further details would be released at a later date.
Beef farmer Ralph Aliberti, who lives on a neighbouring property, described the incident as shocking and strange.
A man who killed his wife on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula in 1973 has been acquitted of murder by a Supreme Court jury.
Geoffrey Gordon Adams, 72, was found not guilty of murdering his wife in 1973
Colleen Adams’ disappearance remained a mystery for 45 years
Adams admitted in 2018 to fatally striking his wife in their Maitland home
Geoffrey Gordon Adams, 72, confessed to killing his wife Colleen Adams in September 2018 — ending the 45-year-old mystery of her disappearance.
It is the oldest cold case to be solved in South Australian history.
Adams pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied he murdered her, before facing a seven-day trial.
The jury took four hours to reach its verdict.
Outside court, Ms Adams’ sister Heather Johncock said the family found justice in the fact their loved one had been discovered after 45 years.
But she said it was “disappointing” that Adams was not convicted of murder.
“Well, I knew it could go either way — we just have to accept that. And at least he didn’t get off,” she said.
She said she had a feeling from the beginning that her brother-in-law may have been responsible for her sister’s sudden disappearance.
“She was a very loving mother, she loved her children and doted on them very much.”
Ms Johncock also urged families waiting for answers in other cold cases to never give up hope.
“Never give up and hopefully one day they’ll be resolved — but never, ever give up,” she said.
Confession led to cold case breakthrough
For 45 years, Adams told police and the media that his 24-year-old wife walked out on him and his two toddler daughters.
She remained missing until September 2018, when Adams confessed to fatally striking her with a metal object and burying her in the backyard of their matrimonial home at Maitland, on the state’s Yorke Peninsula.
Police unearthed her remains on the same day of Adams’ confession.
Adams said his wife was “continuously having a go at me over nothing”, in a recorded police interview played to the jury throughout his trial.
On Wednesday, Prosecutor Jim Pearce QC told the jury Adams spent almost half-a-century “peddling a story” to police and the media.
“It was a version that took 45 years to rear its head,” he said.
“He spent 45 years creating a false narrative of a mentally unstable woman who abandoned her children.”