Murder trial witness saw body fall out of Esky
A WITNESS in the murder trial of three Cooloola Cove fishermen says he saw a man's body fall out of an esky at the home of one of the accused.
Bundaberg man Corey James Ballard told Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday he was in fear of his own life when he lied to police and said he knew nothing about their investigation into the murder of Gold Coast drug addict Shaun Barker.
Mr Ballard is a former friend and colleague of Stephen "Snoop" Armitage who along with his son Matthew Leslie Armitage and William Francis Dean, is charged with the torture and murder of Mr Barker in 2013.
The three men are accused of kidnapping Mr Barker, trapping him in an esky and brutally interrogating him about the drug business before burning his body and dumping it in the Toolara State Forest near Tin Can Bay.
The court heard Mr Ballard was washing his hands in Stephen Armitage's yard after working in the shed when he heard a noise.
He said he turned around to see that a large esky with a man inside had fallen from a ute but that he only looked for a few seconds and walked away because he did not want to know about it.
He said that once back in the shed he was told to "shut the f**k up" and threatened.
Several months later, Mr Ballard was working at Noosa with Stephen Armitage when he got a call from Gympie police to say he needed to attend the station for an interview.
He provided a statement in which he made no reference to the esky.
Mr Ballard told the court that when he returned to Noosa, he was asked what he had told police. He replied, "I didn't say anything".
He said it was only when he received a subpoena at Bundaberg police station to appear before Queensland's Crime Commission that he knew he "had to tell the truth".
Following the QCC hearing, Mr Ballard gave a revised statement to police.
Asked in court yesterday whether he knew that lying to the police in his first sworn statement was an offence and if he had "watched enough television shows to know what happens to young men in a prison environment" Mr Ballard replied "Yes".
But he rejected the suggestion he had only turned prosecution witness in return for a "get out of jail free card".
Mr Ballard admitted he was a frequent user of the drug ice at the time he was associating with the accused and that he had only kicked the habit after relocating to Bundaberg in 2014.
Later in the trial, a Tin Can Bay man claimed he had tried to resuscitate Mr Barker after seeing his body next to an esky in the forestry behind Cooloola Cove but that he was "cold and stiff".
The trial continues.
- ARM NEWSDESK