Cops lose evidence in murder probe

Anthony Bruce Beer outside the Bundaberg Courthouse yesterday. It is alleged he was involved in the death of a Bundaberg taxi driver.
Anthony Bruce Beer outside the Bundaberg Courthouse yesterday. It is alleged he was involved in the death of a Bundaberg taxi driver. MIKE KNOTT

THE police force has lost key pieces of evidence relating to the 23-year-old murder investigation of Bundaberg taxi driver Brian Hodgkinson, a court heard yesterday.

Anthony Bruce Beer, 46, of Hervey Bay, has been accused of being an accessory after the fact, committing robbery with violence and wilful damage after the murder of Mr Hodgkinson on September 10, 1987.

The police officer who interviewed Beer in March last year took the stand during the second day of the committal hearing yesterday.

The court was told Mr Hodgkinson died after receiving 18cm knife wounds and being bashed with a tyre lever.

The man suspected of murdering the taxi driver, Gary Rasmussen, died of a drug overdose.

Detective Sergeant Peter Roddick told the Bundaberg Magistrates Court the John Tonge Centre and police had lost exhibits taken from the crime scene.

Strands of hair lifted from Mr Hodgkinson's taxi seat held at the Brisbane forensic centre and four plaster casts taken at the Goodwood Road crime scene could not be located, Det. Sgt Roddick said.

“I would have loved to have those DNA samples around to compare with the sample I took from (Beer),” he said.

The court was told 26 pieces of evidence taken from the murder scene were entered into a log.

That information was given to the defence after it was subpoenaed from the police following a directions hearing, the court was told.

When defence barrister Joseph Briggs asked the detective why he had not told the court the exhibits were missing, Det. Sgt Roddick said it was his first opportunity to disclose the information.

The police officer said the Bundaberg police station had relocated since 1987.

“The property officer can't account for the (plaster casts) and I can't account for them,” Det. Sgt Roddick said.

Mr Briggs told the court Beer was an “unreliable” man and described him as an alcoholic who said he could talk to dead people.

He said Beer's evidence — the covert recording taped by his then-girlfriend Rhonda Chapman and the police interview — was the centre of the prosecution's case.

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