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Man jailed over SA cold-case murder

Matthew Tilley will spend at least 26 years in jail for murdering Suzanne Poll in 1993. Photo: AAP
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A man found guilty over a cold-case murder in Adelaide has been jailed for at least 26 years.

Matthew Donald Tilley was arrested in Victoria in 2019 after a DNA match from a discarded coffee cup linked him to the killing of Suzanne Poll in 1993.

On Wednesday, he appeared in the South Australian Supreme Court, where Justice David Peek set the non-parole period.

He had previously imposed the mandatory head sentence of life in prison.

“While any murder of any citizen constitutes the commission of a most serious offence known to our law, the circumstances of the present crime call for clear denunciation,” Justice Peek said in his sentencing remarks.

“This killing of a female shop employee, alone on duty at night, followed by a successful escape and subsequent non-detection inevitably led to great publicity in South Australia and concomitant concern, indeed fear, in the community.”

Victim found at rear of stationery store

Mrs Poll, 36, was found in a pool of blood in the rear of a stationery store where she worked.

She had suffered at least 18 stab wounds, including some that went right through her body.

At the start of Tilley’s trial in November last year, prosecutor Carmen Matteo said improvements in DNA techniques ultimately resulted in the 49-year-old’s arrest.

She said a DNA profile originally extracted from a man’s blood at the murder scene returned a familial match with Tilley’s brother in late 2017.

Disposable coffee cup discarded

That led detectives to travel to Victoria to question the accused and after noticing him discard a disposable coffee cup, they retrieved it and brought it back to Adelaide for testing, ultimately securing the DNA match.

Ms Matteo said an autopsy found Mrs Poll died from massive blood loss following the attack.

The prosecution said she was killed by a man who entered the store close to closing time.

Tilley’s defence lawyer had argued that a key question was whether the evidence had been properly preserved over almost three decades.

At sentencing submissions, the court was told he maintained his innocence despite the jury’s verdict.

Justice Peek said his continued denials were knowingly false.

“You fled the scene and have been successful in evading police detection for many years,” the judge told him.

“You continue, even now, to falsely deny your guilt, and you decline to offer any explanation as to how your conduct came about.”

-AAP