Man acquitted over taxi murder

Anthony Bruce Beer outside Bundaberg Magistrates Court.
Anthony Bruce Beer outside Bundaberg Magistrates Court. Mike Knott

A MAN accused of playing a part in the 23-year-old murder of a Bundaberg taxi driver has walked free after a magistrate said no jury could be convinced of his guilt.

Anthony Bruce Beer, 47, of Hervey Bay, was accused of being an accessory to the murder of Brian Hodgkinson, who died on September 10, 1987, from deep stab wounds and being bashed on the head with a tyre lever.

Magistrate Neil Lavaring presided over a three-day committal hearing in May this year and yesterday told Bundaberg Magistrates Court he would not commit the matter to trial.

“I find a properly instructed jury could not lawfully convict on the evidence provided,” he said.

“I find the evidence is manifestly unreliable.”

Beer was charged with accessory after the fact to murder, robbery with actual violence, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and wilful damage.

Mr Lavaring yesterday discharged Beer on all but the wilful damage charge.

Beer sat stone faced and showing no emotion as the magistrate gave his findings.

His former partner, Rhonda Chapman, had told the committal hearing on May 4 that Beer had allegedly spoken of the murder up to 40 times during their five-year relationship and recounted details of the incident, including how the victim died.

Ms Chapman said she initially did not believe Beer’s story, and believed he had mental health problems because he told her he could talk to dead people.

But eventually she became so concerned at his repeated stories about the murder that she contacted the police and agreed to wear a secret recording device to tape a conversation with him

It was also revealed the police had lost key pieces of evidence relating to the murder, including plaster casts and strands of hair lifted from Mr Hodgkinson’s seat.

A forensic pathologist who worked on the case earlier told the court Mr Hodgkinson had been beaten from behind with a linear object, before being stabbed in the abdomen and chest.

Mr Hodgkinson’s former colleague, Andrea Hall, said the taxi driver had not used any distress codes during the night, and had not told the cab company he was leaving the Bundaberg city area.

The man suspected of murdering Mr Hodgkinson, Bundaberg man Gary Rasmussen, died of a drug overdose in 1992.

Beer will face court again on September 20 in relation to the wilful damage charge.

“I find a properly instructed jury could not lawfully convict on the evidence provided.”

Magistrate Neil Lavaring

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