Trinity Bates
Trinity Bates

Only prints 'belonged to accused'

UPDATE 5PM: An expert told a court the only identifiable fingerprints found at Trinity Bates’s home and the drain where her body was found belonged to those of Allyn John Slater, 21.

Queensland Police Sergeant John Reeves told Bundaberg Magistrates Court three fingerprints were found on the glass of her bedroom window, a thumbprint found on the top of the window sill, and further fingerprints found on the arm of a plastic garden chair near her bedroom window.

Sgt Reeves said other fingerprints were found, but they belonged to police officers who were at the crime scene or had not been identified.

A police forensic expert also told the court footprints that were found at the stormwater drain could not be linked to Slater.

Queensland Police Detective Sergeant Karen Murray said she conducted an examination of Trinity’s body, but found no evidence which provided a link to Slater.

The committal hearing, which will determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial, has concluded its second day.

A number of neighbours and nearby residents also gave evidence about noises, such as dogs barking, they heard the night Trinity was taken from her bed.

The hearing is expected to conclude tomorrow.

This morning, a prison inmate has told the court that accused murderer Allyn John Slater spoke to him about the lead-up to Trinity Bates's death while they were detained together at a Brisbane jail.

Craig Simpson, a former inmate of Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, said Slater told him he took the schoolgirl from her bed, wrapped her in a blanket and then took her to the drainage area.

Simpson said Slater told him that he then took the young girl and "squeezed".

"He told me 'I squeezed her'," Simpson said.

"'After I placed her down, I just squished her'."

Simpson said Slater's demeanour completely changed when he spoke about the death of Trinity.

"I walked away. It was eerie, it was horrible," Simpson said.

Simpson is now in Wolston Correction Centre for drug offences.

Slater became visibly distressed in court while Simpson told his version of the story. 

The accused, dressedin a black suit, sat hunched over jiggling his legs, and at one time appeared to be crying.

Slater has not entered a plea to one charge of murder.

The hearing continues.

Yesterday, the court was told Slater told a man with whom he was sharing a watchhouse cell he was there because he had killed someone.

As the three-day committal hearing opened in Bundaberg Magistrates Court, the first of up to 40 witnesses expected to give evidence during the high-profile case took the stand.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Harding told the court a man sharing a Bundaberg police station cell with the accused murderer had reported to police that Slater “claimed he had killed someone”.

The court was told Trinity was found dead on February 22, 2010, face down in a stormwater drain, after being reported missing.

Bundaberg Police Sergeant Bill Applebee said he was called to the Bates family’s Walker St home about 6.15am after it was discovered Trinity was missing from her bed.

Sgt Applebee told the court he immediately began searching in the back yard of the home, where he found a “hydroponic set-up” in the garden shed.

He said he and his dog, Yang, then walked along Walker St in the direction of a nearby culvert.

Sgt Applebee told the court he began searching the drainage area and Yang indicated there was “something of interest” in the pipe.

“When I shone the torch down the pipe I noticed some debris,” he said.

“I decided I had to climb in the pipe myself.

"I noticed that what I thought was debris was the body.”

Special forensic pathologist Nathan Milne said the girl had 87 bruises on her body, a 17mm cut on her forehead that was consistent with a blunt-force trauma, and two large abrasions on her chest that suggested she had been dragged into the drain pipe.

Dr Milne said Trinity’s injuries were also consistent with strangulation, which may have caused her to lose consciousness or almost lose consciousness.

But he believed her eventual cause of death was drowning.

Dr Milne said there were no injuries to the eight-year-old’s pelvic or genital areas.

Bundaberg Police Child Protection and Investigation Unit Detective Sergeant Cameron Schneider told the court officers were led to suspect Slater for Trinity’s murder after finding his fingerprint on the bedroom window where she slept.

Det Sgt Schneider said police raided Slater’s home in Franklin St, South Bundaberg, where they took away items of clothing and electronic devices for testing.

But none of these items, including the clothes Slater was wearing on the night, returned any evidence that linked Slater to Trinity’s death, he said.

The court was told a second fingerprint and small amount of Trinity’s blood was also found outside the window.

Det Sgt Schneider said there was no DNA evidence on Trinity’s body or clothes that provided a link to Slater.

Queensland Police Homicide Investigation Unit Detective Sergeant Marcus Edwards said Slater appeared to be “clearly bright” during the first police interview conducted with him.

“He appeared to me to be quite eloquent in his responses, even though he has a mild speech impediment,” he said.

More than 170 people have provided a statement in the case, including Trinity’s parents, who may be called as witnesses.

More than 40 exhibits have also been entered into the record.

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