A jury has found Brenden Bennetts guilty of murdering Gatton school girl, Jayde Kendall.It took less than a day of deliberations for a jury to reach their verdict on Thursday after hearing seven days of evidence in the Brisbane Supreme Court.
There was an audible gasp from the public gallery when the verdict was handed down while Bennetts showed no emotion.
He has been handed a life sentence in prison with a minimum of twenty years before he is eligible for parole.
Jayde was last seen alive getting into Bennetts' distinctive red Toyota Corolla after school about 3.20pm on Friday, August 14.
Prosecutor Vicki Loury QC argued it was likely the 16-year-old was dead not long after 4pm and her body dragged to an isolated field on an Upper Tenthill property.
Ms Loury said in her closing submission Bennetts was a "very good actor" and destroyed all things linking him to Jayde that afternoon, including her belongings and text messages showing the pair were meeting up for sexual activity.
"He was thinking he was clever, but little did he know those messages could be recovered," Ms Loury said.
The trial heard Bennetts texted himself Jayde's bank card PIN at 3.58pm then shielded his face from an ATM camera as he withdrew $70 from her account at dark.
Defence barrister Michael Copley QC argued Jayde's death could have been from sexual misadventure and Bennetts had withdrawn the money in a panic to make it seem all was well.
The court had heard Bennetts was inclined to choking his sexual partners and had taken it "too far" with two previous girlfriends.
But Ms Loury said Bennetts' lies and attempts to conceal evidence were "out of proportion" to an accidental killing.
"If it was a terrible tragedy, why didn't he get her help?" Ms Loury said.
"He let her family search for her in the vain hope she was alive.
"You can almost see the cogs turning in his head to make up a version that makes sense."
The court heard Bennetts searched YouTube for "best way to dispose of a body" the day before he killed Jayde.
The prosecution was not required to prove what motivated the 18-year-old to kill, but Ms Loury argued it showed what was going on in his head during the murder.
"He was contemplating killing and disposing of a body and one day later does just that," she said.
"You just don't know how she died.
"You will never know why he did this. While there may be a reason, it is only known to him."