WRAPPING UP: Kenneth Douglas (centre) leaves court yesterday as a family member (above) tries to block media from taking photos.
WRAPPING UP: Kenneth Douglas (centre) leaves court yesterday as a family member (above) tries to block media from taking photos. Matt Taylor GLA120618COURT

DIGLUM TRIAL: Jesse Douglas testifies he fired shots

THE TRIAL of Kenneth Robert Douglas took a dramatic turn at Gladstone District Court yesterday as prosecutor Matt Le Grand asked a key witness if he was lying to the court.

Douglas, 40, is accused of firing two rifle shots on the night of August 12, 2016, at a Diglum cattle property - the first damaging a caravan and the second being fired close to Amanda Loader, who was living on the property at the time.

Douglas and his sons Jesse and Matthew had travelled there that night to confront Ms Loader's brother due to a dispute over wages and a fridge.

The night ended with the burning down of the Loaders' farmhouse, to which Jesse Douglas, 27, has pleaded guilty.

As the trial neared its end yesterday, Mr Le Grand confronted Jesse, who had taken the stand and testified he was the one who fired a weapon that night, and not his father.

Jesse told the court he had found a .22-calibre rifle and a .223 Remington rifle on a bed inside the farmhouse, rather than inside a locked shipping container as told by the Crown.

He said it was he who had then fired the .22 into the hills over Ms Loader's caravan, but only to clear it of two or three rounds found in the chamber.

In response, Mr Le Grand asked him if he was lying to the court to protect his father.

Mr Le Grand asked Jesse if he was trying to "take the heat off" his father given Jesse's fate was "already sealed" on the arson charge, and it had been Jesse's dispute his father had become involved with.

"No, I'm trying to take the blame for what I've done," Jesse replied.

Kenneth Douglas testified in his own defence earlier in the day, telling the court he had had a huge amount of alcohol that night and could not remember anything clearly except falling off a step-ladder.

"I had very much been consuming a lot of alcohol... about three people's worth of being very intoxicated," he said.

Douglas admitted he had other flashes of memory after that, but had trouble distinguishing between what was his recollection and what had been told to him afterwards.

But he testified he definitely remembered he had not fired a gun on that night.

He said he had been a long-time user of firearms and knew they were not to be taken lightly, making firing one "something (he) would remember".

The final witness to appear for the defence was Douglas's younger son Matthew, who had also been at the property.

Matthew told the court he had been drinking "one-for-one" with his father that night, which Mr Le Grand later claimed was evidence Douglas could not have been as intoxicated as he testified, given Matthew's clearer recollection.

Mr Le Grand closed the prosecution's case by pointing to Ms Loader's identification of Jesse Douglas as the person pouring petrol that night, calling it "the best proof you could hope for" of her ability to differentiate between the Douglases despite the bright lights.

Closing the case for the defence, barrister Scott Moon reminded the jury they needed to be certain of Douglas's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to return a guilty verdict.

He pointed to the fact that no one had directly seen either of the gunshots in question being fired, and only one person had testified they knew who had fired them - Jesse Douglas.

The trial is expected to conclude today.

Click here for The Observer's coverage of the final day of the trial.



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