Tony Boyd Carmichael killed a man by shooting him twice in the head four months before Gregory Armstrong vanished.
Tony Boyd Carmichael killed a man by shooting him twice in the head four months before Gregory Armstrong vanished.

Explosive reveal: Man acquitted of murder a convicted killer

A man found not guilty in a high-profile cold case murder trial was previously convicted of killing another man.

Explosive new details can now be revealed that show four months after Gregory John Armstrong disappeared in 1997, Tony Boyd Carmichael - who was acquitted of his murder - had shot another man twice in the head.
The documents show Carmichael - who was acquitted of Mr Armstrong's murder on Wednesday - travelled to Mackay and shot Michael John Rutherford in the head on September 2, 1997.

Mr Rutherford died eight days later.

Greg Armstrong was last seen in Maryborough on the morning of May 7, 1997.
Greg Armstrong was last seen in Maryborough on the morning of May 7, 1997.

Carmichael was initially charged with Mr Rutherford's murder, but a jury found him guilty of the lesser charges of manslaughter and wounding and he was sentenced to 11 years' jail in May 1998.

Karen Rutherford, who was the wife of the victim, said in 1998 she wanted Attorney-General Denver Beanland to look into the case.

Carmichael was sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter and another three years, six months for unlawfully wounding Kenneth Jensen, to which he pleaded guilty prior to the hearing.
During Carmichael's Supreme Court trial this year for the murder of Mr Armstrong, the circumstantial case hinged on key witness Susan Messer who told the court that one night after Mr Armstrong went missing, Mr Carmichael had shown up at her doorstep "slightly on edge".

Tony Boyd Carmichael was found not guilty of the cold case murder of Gregory Armstrong.
Tony Boyd Carmichael was found not guilty of the cold case murder of Gregory Armstrong.

The court was told the pair were taking amphetamines together, as they did often, when Mr Carmichael confessed to the murder.

But in his judgment handed down on Wednesday, Justice Peter Applegarth found that Ms Messer had lied several times throughout the long-running cold case investigation.

Justice Applegarth also found that Ms Messer was an unreliable witness due to her drug addiction and her inability to recall basic details about Mr Carmichael's supposed confession, including whether the sun was up or not.

"Ms Messer's evidence of conversations and events was, at best, confused," Justice Applegarth said.

"Ms Messer could not recall when the defendant left her home. She could not say whether it was after half an hour or an hour. She could not even say whether the sun was up when he left, or whether her children were awake.

"She gave inconsistent accounts of matters to different individuals. She sought to limit what she told to police for different reasons."

"I conclude that Ms Messer is an unreliable historian of the events and conversations in 1997. As to her credibility, she has admitted lying to police and to having lied on oath."

Ms Messer had said that Mr Carmichael told her about killing Greg. She said that Mr Armstrong had egged on Mr Carmichael, telling him to "pull the trigger".
"He said that they were camping out at the Jew Hole … they took him out there because Greg owed money," Ms Messer said.
"And Greg had said to him 'go on then pull the trigger, pull the trigger, shoot me, go on then do it'.
"And he did it, twice."

During the trial, the Crown alleged that Mr Armstrong was shot in the presence of three other men, including Shane Josefski, Laurie Canavan and Alfred Canavan who have not been charged over Mr Armstrong's death.

However, the evidence given by some of these men did not support that claim, Justice Applegarth found.
The Crown alleged that after the shooting, Mr Carmichael was left at the scene and had to swim across a river to get back to Maryborough.

The Crown case was also built on evidence given by Mr Carmichael's friends who said that he appeared to be "in shock" and on edge around the time of Mr Armstrong's disappearance.

But Justice Applegarth was not convinced any confession took place.

"The essential issue remains whether I am satisfied that the defendant made the alleged confession to Ms Messer," Justice Applegarth said.

"Because of the serious reservations which I have about the credibility and reliability of her evidence in general and of her evidence about the defendant's alleged confession to her in particular, I am not satisfied that any such confession was made to her by the defendant."
Mr Armstrong's body has never been found despite multiple searches by police in the weeks and decades after his disappearance and his final resting place remains a mystery.
He was last seen shortly after his 30th birthday party where he had proposed to his girlfriend Alecia Younie.
Ms Younie told police that on the day he disappeared, she saw a man staring at Mr Armstrong.
When she told him, Mr Armstrong said: "Don't worry about him, he's no one".
In 2018, the investigation was given a second wind as part of a Queensland Police initiative to attempt to solve cold cases.
Detectives interviewed new witnesses which led to divers and cadaver dogs scouring bushland in Tuan Forest in September 2018.

Originally published as Explosive reveal: Man acquitted of cold case murder a convicted killer


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