SEVENTH MAN, ALLEGED ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT
See below for links to all subsequent reports of five day hearing.
By KIERAN FINNANE
Family members of a man beaten to death in an apparent ‘payback’ in February last year hurled abuse at the men accused of his murder in the Alice Springs Magistrates Court today.
Right: Members of the public leaving the hearing this afternoon.
Lawyer Russell Goldflam, acting for one of the accused, twice raised the matter with Magistrate John Birch, asking him to speak to people in the gallery about it.
In both cases the swearing and abuse – ‘in language’ – happened after the magistrate had left the court for an adjournment. In the first instance, only a few people were involved, but in the second there were many raised angry voices and gestures, prompting a police officer guarding the defendants to tell the crowd to “Get out!”
Magistrate Birch told the gallery that he understood “how sad and upset” family members would be now that proceedings have commenced, but he warned that if people “don’t behave” he would be forced to close the court.
There are seven men in the dock – six accused of murder, one of being an accessory after the fact.
According to Crown prosecutor Stephen Robson, the dead man, G. Pollard, had not long been out of prison when five of the men arrived in a car at Ilparpa Camp some time after 8pm on Monday, February 18 last year. Mr Robson said the five – Kasman Andy, Lawrence Collin, Christopher Daniel, Silas Raggett and Mervyn Wilson – had formed a plan earlier at Charles Creek Camp to kill or inflict serious harm on Mr Pollard.
Although the prosecution will not set out to establish a motive for their actions, Mr Robson said it had been suggested by some witnesses that they were motivated to carry out a payback for the death of a young woman, R. Nelson, who died as a result of injuries inflicted at Abbott’s Camp on Christmas Day 2012. The young woman’s partner, Sebastian Kunoth, was charged with her murder. Having been through a committal in the Magistrates Court, he is now pleading guilty to her manslaughter. There is no suggestion that Mr Pollard had anything directly to do with it. (His name did not arise in any part of the evidence heard in open court during the committal proceedings.)
At Ilparpa Camp, the five men saw Mr Pollard walking along a dirt road with his wife and another woman, said Mr Robson. The five were armed with various weapons and yelled threats.
He said Mr Pollard ran from them, towards the fence between the camp and Yirara College. Four of them gave chase, while Mr Andy pursued in the car.
They “captured” him and he was “severely beaten” before being put into the back seat of the car, lying across the laps of some of the men, to be taken back to Charles Creek. En route his jeans were thrown out of the window.
“At least from that moment, the deceased was naked,” said Mr Robson.
His wife called 000 at 9.09pm. Meanwhile, at Charles Creek he was dragged from the back of the vehicle, still alive. A sixth man Grant Inkamala and some others joined the continued assault on him, until he appeared to be dead. Mr Inkamala was involved to such an extent that he too has been charged with murder. Others involved include people who are now prosecution witnesses. Among them is the wife of one of the accused, Mervyn Wilson. She hit Mr Pollard on the head with a wine bottle at the insistence of her husband, said Mr Robson.
Mr Pollard was then put back in the car and driven up the Stuart Highway, just a couple of kilometres north of the town. His body, wrapped in a blanket, was disposed of in a ditch on the eastern side of the road. The car, parked on the western side, was torched.
The seventh defendant Robert Daniel allegedly got involved at this point.
Two witnesses called 000 at 11.58pm, reporting the car to be well ablaze. Robert Daniel appeared on CCTV footage at the Truck Stop at 11.53pm, seen arriving on foot, not by car.
Mr Pollard’s body was not discovered until the evening of Wednesday, February 20. An autopsy was performed the following day, with the body already in a state of decomposition. Cause of death was stated as “multiple traumatic injuries”.
The committal hearing has been set down for five days but is proceeding slowly, given the number of defendants and their legal representatives. Only three witnesses were cross-examined today. All of them were at Ilparpa Camp on the night of the trouble. Cross-examination went to what they saw and heard, when. The various defence lawyers, as to be expected, sought to cast doubt on the evidence on various grounds: that it was a mixture of things the witnesses had seen and things other people had told them; that it was dark; that the events were fast-moving; that they couldn’t be sure of what they had seen specific individuals doing or holding, as opposed to the group; that the word in Luritja for “kill” can also mean “hit” or “hurt”.
Apart from eye-witness accounts, there is also forensic evidence, said Mr Robson, including blood and DNA on sticks at Ilparpa Camp that put defendants Andy, Raggett and Christopher Daniel there. Mr Pollard’s DNA was also found on clothing of the same three and Mr Wilson.
There will also be evidence from witnesses of some partial admissions by some defendants.
The hearing continues.
‘Payback 7′ hearing: ‘They was punching him a lot of times.’ DAY 2
‘Payback 7’: victim may have had genitals burned. DAY 3
‘Payback 7’: sternum blow may have caused heart failure; multiple stab & puncture wounds; no evidence of genital burns. DAY 4
‘Payback 7’: Kumunjayi Pollard hunted ‘like a kangaroo’. DAY 4, second report
‘Payback 7′ ordered to stand trial. DAY 5
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