Business partner cleared of Carlyle murder
Neil Andrew Pentland has been acquitted of the 1997 murder of his business partner Philip Carlyle.
Mr Carlyle, 48, was shot four times at point-blank range on April 13, 1997 in a soundproof plant room at the offices of Gold Coast IT start-up Atnet, where he worked.
During the judge-only trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, witnesses gave evidence that marketing manager Mr Carlyle and Pentland had a "good friendship" and were excited about closing a deal before the allegedly execution in a plant room at their offices.
Prosecutors had alleged that Pentland, now 72, fired four bullets into the 48-year-old father's head in a "methodical execution".
Pentland's barrister Saul Holt QC argued the circumstantial case against his client was weak.
During the two week trial before Justice Glenn Martin, the court heard Pentland and Mr Carlyle met on the Gold Coast through their children's soccer team and later began working together in an IT start-up business Atnet.
Crown Prosecutor David Meredith said during his opening address on July 20 that Mr Carlyle had been hired as the marketing manager of the business but had previously operated a number of failed businesses and had former business partners who "didn't think well of him".
The court heard on the morning that Mr Carlyle was killed, he met Pentland at their office to discuss a business deal.
The court heard the security alarm at Atnet had been deactivated at 9.28am and Mr Carlyle had sent a number of emails in the next hour, but emails to his account sent after 11.02am went unread.
In his reasons for judgment, Justice Martin said he did not accept the prosecution evidence that the relationship between the two men had deteriorated "to an extent sufficient to provide motive".
"I do not accept that," he wrote in his findings.
"The material suggests that they had a number of disagreements about various aspects of the way in which ATNET should proceed with its projects, especially Insure-IT.
"But those disagreements were nothing more than one might expect from persons engaged in an enterprise with considerable pressure upon them, and in which each saw the prospect of considerable success.
"The exchanges between them, when they became heated, were conducted by email and usually concluded by each party accepting that the other had been genuine and only sought success for the business."
Justice Martin said he did not accept that Pentland had motive to kill his business partner.
"There were friendly exchanges of emails on the Friday and Saturday before Mr Carlyle's death," he wrote.
"Indeed, they were congratulating each other on the efforts each had made in their dealings with Triangle Associates.
"I do not accept that the relationship between the defendant and Mr Carlyle was one which was deteriorating or in any way acrimonious.
"In fact the relationship was such that the defendant was dependant upon Mr Carlyle exercising his skills in marketing to procure the result which they both sought."
Justice Martin found Pentland not guilty on the single charge of murder.
"The prosecution has not demonstrated to the required standard all the elements necessary to constitute the offence of murder," he said.
Originally published as Business partner cleared of Carlyle murder