In sentencing 52-year-old Walter Marsh, Justice Derek Price described the murder “cruel, merciless and abhorrent.”

“This is a terrible crime that is top of the range for the offence of murder,” he said.

A Supreme Court jury found Marsh guilty last November of murder.

Beets had not renewed the registered nurse’s contact at Royal North Shore Hospital after one year, a move that placed Marsh’s future in Australia at risk.

Marsh, a US citizen, and his wife Samantha had been living in Sydney on a 457 Visa, which meant he had to be employed.

The court heard he had difficulty to securing employment in Sydney, a fact he put down to his former boss giving him bad references.

If he had to return to the US, he would face the music of a $50,000 unpaid child support bill for the maintenance of his teenage daughter – who is in the care of his ex wife Tammy Marsh.

Samantha Marsh, who gave evidence against her husband at the trial, told the jury that when he met her after the killing on April 27, 2010 he said “I did it, that bitch is gone.”

The jury also heard that Marsh “practised” throat slitting and stabbing motions on his wife and her brother using a wooden spoon.