Witness in alleged murder case saw body fall from Esky
A CONFESSED ice user says he saw a body fall from an Esky while he was working at a Gympie region property.
Corey James Ballard on Monday told a committal hearing in Brisbane that he could not remember the man's face or clothes despite watching the body fall from an Esky that "tipped off" a truck tray parked in a yard at Investigator Avenue, Cooloola Cove.
The Bundaberg resident, who told the court he used ice a few times each week, said he did not see any injuries on the body.
Mr Ballard also said he was "intimidated" by the detectives investigating the murder of Gold Coast resident Shaun Matthew Barker .
It is alleged that Cooloola Cove residents Stephen John Armitage, 45, his son Matthew Leslie Armitage, 22, and Highfields resident William Frances Dean, 37, murdered Mr Barker, who was last seen alive on December 10, 2013, in Broadbeach.
The victim's body was found in a forest near Tin Can Bay in April, 2014.
The Armitages and Mr Dean have been charged with murder, deprivation of liberty and torture.
Mr Ballard, who is a long-time friend of the Armitages, said he felt detectives were "forcing" him to "tell the truth" about seeing the body.
"It was quite intimidating," Mr Ballard said of three police officers who initially spoke to him about Mr Barker's death.
"They said if I wasn't to tell the truth I'd be looking at the same (prison) time as the others."
Meanwhile, another prosecution witness, Matthew Dean, told the court William Dean said there was a man "tied up in the forest".
Matthew Dean and William Dean are not related.
Matthew Dean, who admitted to using drugs, said he was at the Armitage property picking up a truck part when the statement was made after he was told to "clean up" body fluids from the back seat of William Dean's car.
"I asked 'Where is this fella (who the fluids belong to) and he (William Dean) said 'Tied up in the forestry. We're going to put him in an Esky."
He said William Dean then said: "We're not going to give him any food or water for a few days because we want him to speak."
Matthew Dean said Stephen Armitage then approached him and William Dean and said: "You wouldn't believe how big a flogging this bloke can take without talking."
Rick Mitchell, an employee of the Armitages and Stephen Armitage's cousin, said he was at the property when the Esky fell off the truck.
Mr Mitchell told the hearing he thought the incident happened on December 12 or 13 of 2013.
He told the court he saw Mr Dean crouching down and "talking to an Esky".
"Something weird was going on and I didn't know what it was," Mr Mitchell said.
"Everything that was a happening there I didn't want to be a part of.
"Matthew (Armitage) said they had a person in the Esky.
"(Matthew) said (of the person in the Esky) 'He's complaining that he's thirsty - I'll fix him'."
"He (Matthew Armitage) said 'We have a guy in the Esky who we are trying to get something out of (about a thing) that happened down the coast."
Nine witnesses will give evidence at the three-day committal hearing.
Accused pair linked to drug supply
TWO men accused of murdering Shaun Matthew Barker allegedly supplied methamphetamine to another man at their Cooloola Cove property.
Rick Mitchell told a court on Monday that Stephen John Armitage and his son Matthew Leslie Armitage paid him partly with the drug ice for mechanical work on a truck.
Mr Mitchell said this happened 25 to 30 times from October, 2013 to mid-December 2013.
He made the statement while giving evidence at the three-day committal hearing into the death of Mr Barker.
He told the court that on one occasion, in return for fixing a truck's lights, he received some cash and a gram of ice worth $500-$600.
Mr Mitchell said he stopped taking drugs from the Armitages after he saw Matthew talking "to an Esky" about December 12 or 13, 2013.
The court heard earlier another witness saw a body fall from the Esky.
"I didn't get paid well for what (work) I did (for the Armitages)," Mr Mitchell told the court.
December 10, 2013: Gold Coast resident Shaun Matthew Barker last seen alive in Broadbeach.
January 14, 2014: Mr Barker's family report him missing.
April 10, 2014: A skull and other human remains located by forestry workers in the Toolara State Forest at Tin Can Bay.
January 18, 2016: Cooloola Cove residents Stephen John Armitage, 45, his son Matthew Leslie Armitage, 22, and Highfields resident William Frances Dean, face the first day of a committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court. A witness tells the court he saw a man's body fall from an Esky in a yard at Investigator Ave, Cooloola Cove, in December 2013