ON SCENE: Authorities at the scene of a death in Emerald in 2013.
ON SCENE: Authorities at the scene of a death in Emerald in 2013. File

Man allegedly killed housemate with sledgehammer blow

DAVID John Cooper struck his housemate with a forceful sledgehammer blow. It killed him.

But Emerald's Cooper has pleaded not guilty in the Rockhampton Supreme Court to murdering that housemate, Ernest James Peterson, in April 2013 after the pair got into an argument at their New St home.

He has instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Yesterday was the first day of Cooper's trial.

Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips said Mr Peterson died on April 9, 2013, after Cooper struck him in the chest with a sledgehammer. The court heard the blow resulted in Mr Peterson's rib cage being fractured.

The court yesterday heard that on the afternoon of April 8, 2013, another of Cooper's housemates, Terrence Langtry, met Cooper at the Emerald Hotel.

Mr Langtry in his evidence said there they had one beer.

Following their beer, Cooper and Mr Langtry walked to a nearby bottle store where the defendant bought a 750ml bottle of rum and a bottle of coke.

Cooper and Mr Langtry walked to their New St home, not far from the hotel.

Mr Langtry said it was at home where Cooper and Mr Peterson, for unknown reasons, got into an argument outside the house.

In his evidence, Mr Langtry (who had been drinking since he woke up that morning) said he saw Cooper tap Mr Peterson's chin twice with a sledgehammer.

He said he then saw Cooper lift the sledgehammer above his head and swing it once at Mr Peterson's chest and abdomen area. He didn't see anything else after that.

The court heard about 10 people were living at the New St property at the time of the incident.

Among those living with Cooper, Mr Peterson and Mr Langtry were people by the names of Zach, Bones, Snake, Naomi and the property's owner Richard Aplin.

During his evidence yesterday, Mr Aplin said it was almost a daily occurrence where everyone at the house drank from dawn until dusk.

He said his housemates could easily drink 10 casks of wine between them, in one day.

It's the Crown's case that Cooper did not intend to kill Mr Peterson, but that he simply meant to cause the latter grievous bodily harm.

In explaining the "dynamics" of the people who were living at the house, Mr Aplin said everyone chipped in towards rates, food and electricity.

The court also heard Cooper and Mr Peterson were separately involved in a relationship with another woman living at their house.

The trial continues today.


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