Booze session led to death, jury told
THE man accused of beating Rodney Kayne Ferrar to death was seen scrubbing a bloodied wooden plank with bleach moments after the killing, a court has heard.
The trial against Sturt Lodge murder accused David Andrew Novley began in the Townsville Supreme Court on Monday, with his co-accused in the killing, Richard Gordon Maxwell Swan, telling the court he saw Novley cleaning the plank of wood.
Rodney Kayne Ferrar, 30, was found covered in blood and motionless in his bed at the lodge on August 2, 2016, after suffering blunt force trauma to the head the court heard.
Mr Swan, who had been squatting with Novley at the lodge in the days leading up to the alleged murder.
Chief Justice Catherine Holmes told the jury that Swan was found guilty of manslaughter and was given a discounted sentence of nine years' jail after testifying against Novley.
Swan used his cap to block the view of security cameras at the location on the night of the killing.
In court yesterday, he told the jury he and Novley finished a bottle of Jagermeister in the lead up to the incident.
The pair had been drinking with Mr Ferrar and his partner Candice Butler.
The court was told there were a number of arguments and physical altercations that day.
Swan said an argument turned physical after Novley told the group he had been trying to sleep with Ms Butler for years.
"A lot happened in those few seconds," Swan said.
As the argument escalated, Swan said Novley became "agitated" and started pacing.
"The next words (Novley said) were 'come on, we should finish the job'," he said.
"I didn't take it seriously," he said.
"I seen Daniel picking up a piece of wood … he took it over to (Ferrar's room), where he goes to close the door."
Crown prosecutor Nigel Rees asked Swan what he saw while holding his cap over the camera.
"It is not what I was seeing, it's what I heard … just shuffling furniture … the sound of a struggle," Swan said.
"He passed me with the plank of wood he had had in his hand with blood on the end.
"He tried bleaching it and scrubbing it."
Swan also told the jury he saw Novley grab clothes from Ferrar's room to wipe clean a blood trail in the hallway.
Candice Butler told the court that the pair had left Mount Isa for Townsville to turn their lives around, before Ferrar's alleged murder.
In her evidence, Ms Butler told the court that the pair had been addicted to ice and alcohol.
"We came to Townsville to change our lives," Ms Butler said.
"Rodney came out first to do rehab and I came out later on, about a month later."
The couple had moved into the CBD lodge about one month before Mr Ferrar was killed and their private room was just across the hall from his accused murderer.
Ms Butler, Swan and a third witness Michael Binjunda each gave conflicting accounts about what lead up to the brutal slaying of Mr Ferrar.
The thing they all agreed on, was a large amount of alcohol had been consumed.
Defence barrister Joseph Briggs asked Ms Butler about differences in her police statements and the account she gave in court.
Mr Briggs also asked about her substantial criminal history, which included violent and dishonest offending linked to alcohol.
He also raised questions about Swan's series of events, asking how he witnessed the aftermath of the alleged killing if he was still holding a cap over the CCTV camera.
Mr Rees tendered the almost eight-minute clip as evidence and said the footage of the fluorescently-lit hallway of level four at the Sturt Lodge Hostel showed critical moments leading up to and following the alleged murder.
Mr Briggs' cross examination of Swan will continue today.
Originally published as Booze session led to death, jury told