Ian Jamieson knew once he had stabbed his neighbour Greg Holmes, he would have to face justice. As Holmes, a respected local in the town of Wedderbun in Victoria’s north, lay dying in a paddock desperately calling to nearby campers for help, Jamieson walked back to his neighbouring house, grabbed two shotguns and a load of ammunition.

He then carried the shotguns to the nearby house of Holmes’ two elderly parents, Peter Lockhart, 78, and Mary Lockhart, 75.

Mr Lockhart was out the back of his house. Without saying a word, Jamieson shot him twice at point-blank range before stopping to reload and firing again into his body.

He then found Mrs Lockhart inside the house where he shot her three times.

Sixty-five-year-old Jamieson later told police: “I thought, ‘Well, bugger it, I’m gone. I might as well go and kill the other ones'”, the Victorian Supreme Court heard on Friday.

After the shootings, Jamieson headed home. His wife, seeing him covered in blood, asked what had happened. He replied calmly that he had shot the Lockharts and stabbed Mr Holmes.

Jamieson put his bloodied clothes into a laundry basket then called the police and told them what he had done. As Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth on Friday sentenced Jamieson to life in prison for the horrifying triple murder, the court heard Jamieson’s crimes had been motivated by a dispute over a bit of dust; a neighbourhood squabble that escalated suddenly and inexplicably.

A track runs along the property Jamieson owns in Wedderburn. It’s the best access to the neighboring Holmes property, where Mr Holmes and his elderly parents lived.

Neighbourly relations were good to start with. But over the years Jamieson slowly grew more and more aggrieved about seeing the Lockharts drive up the track; he said they were spraying dust onto his house. When Mr Holmes started driving through it regularly, sometimes on the back of a tractor, Jamieson’s fury grew.

On the day of the murders, Mr Holmes drove that tractor up the road, slowly, not kicking up much dust. That was enough, it seemed, to drive Jamieson over the edge. He waited until nightfall then climbed over the fence between the properties, armed with a large hunting knife.

“Over time you became utterly obsessed with their use of the road reserve,” Justice Hollingworth told the court. “You expressed no regret and remorse for your actions. You killed the Lockharts for no reason, other than your longstanding animosity towards them.”

“He’s always struck me as a sociopath”

Paul Holmes, Greg’s brother, said on the the steps of court after the sentence that he wanted his relatives to be remembered as people who loved and were loved in return.

“People that enjoyed their lives and should still be here with us, enjoying new grandkids, new life,” he said.

He said Jamieson had always acted strangely.

“I don’t like to put a tag on people, but to me he’s always struck me as a sociopath in his behaviour,”

‘Depraved and despicable’

Prosecutors had called for Jamieson to spend the rest of his life in prison.

“His behaviour was depraved and despicable, and deserving of the strongest possible condemnation,” prosecutor Andrew Tinney said on Wednesday.

Jamieson made several unusual decisions in his trial, including sacking his lawyers twice and turning up to court in an open-necked shirt, with a tie draped over his shoulder.

He also claimed he had been stabbed in the leg with a drug-filled syringe during a struggle with Mr Holmes.

A good farming family

The Lockharts were well known in the area. Mr Lockhart was part of a farming family that had lived in the region for four generations. His second wife, Mary, was from Bendigo.

The couple had moved closer to town from the Lockhart family farm, to their neat home on the Wedderburn-Lockhart Road.

Mr Lockhart, a former president of the Wedderburn Historical Engine and Machinery Society, was involved in the town’s football and tennis teams.

“He joined the engine club after he retired and has been a good member and a good worker,” local resident Geoff Maxwell said.

Sentenced to life

Jamieson, dressed in a blue collared shirt and green jumper, stood with his hands in his pockets as Justice Hollingworth read out the sentence to a packed court. Several members of the public broke into sobs after the sentence of life with a 30-year non-parole period was announced.

The judge said it was “highly likely” Jamieson would die in custody.

“You sought out each of your unarmed victims at night, on their own properties where they should have felt safe,” she said. “You callously shot your elderly victims from close range multiple times … without warning and without provocation.

“You have not shown the slightest remorse for your appalling crimes. Even now you continue to blame your victims for what happened.”