Greg Armstrong murder trial: Judge retires for verdict

A judge has begun deliberating in the murder trial of Tony Boyd Carmichael who is accused of shooting Gregory Armstrong over a drug debt after being "goaded" by the slain painter.

During the trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court, the Crown alleged that Mr Carmichael, 46, shot Mr Armstrong at the Jew Hole, a recreation area on Big Tuan Creek 40km south of Maryborough, on or about May 7, 1997.

It was alleged in court that Mr Carmichael fired two bullets into Mr Armstrong's head after Mr Armstrong egged him on saying "go on then, shoot me".

Mr Carmichael has pleaded not guilty to murder and during closing submissions today, his defence barrister launched a scathing attack on the Crown's key witness Susan Messer.

 

Ms Messer testified that one night after Mr Armstrong went missing, Mr Carmichael had shown up at her doorstep "slightly on edge" and confessed to the murder once they began taking amphetamines together.

"He said that they were camping out at the Jew Hole … they took him out there because Greg owed money," Ms Messer told the court.

"And Greg had said to him 'go on then pull the trigger, pull the trigger, shoot me, go on then do it'.

"And he did it, twice."

Barrister Damian Walsh suggested that the confession never occurred and she had only come forward because she was after the reward money offered by Queensland Police.

Mr Walsh said Ms Messer was a drug addict whose accounts to police and the courts over the past two decades had been plagued with inconsistencies.

"Ms Messer has been copping an earful of rumours from people around the town of Maryborough," Mr Walsh said.

"She is merely, because of her drug use, inventing the rumour or adopting the rumour or adopting and believing the rumour and regurgitating it to others."

Prosecutor Mark Whitbread rejected this and explained that Ms Messer's delay in coming forward was because she was involved in drugs and did not want to betray her friend.

She told the court she had "always felt like a dog (informer) putting Boyd into it".

During the trial the court was also told that Mr Armstrong was shot in the presence of three other men, including Shane Josefski, Laurie Canavan and Alfred Canavan.

After the shooting, Mr Carmichael was allegedly left at the scene and had to swim across a river to get back to Maryborough.

Another witness Donna McKillop gave evidence that "sometime in May" of that year, Mr Carmichael had shown up at her house drenched.

She said Mr Carmichael had asked for a change of clothes, but he did not appear to be muddy.

The Crown case was also built on evidence given by Mr Carmichael's friends who said that he appeared to be "in shock" and on edge around the time of Mr Armstrong's disappearance.

Mr Armstrong was last seen on May 7 shortly after his 30th birthday party and after he had proposed to his partner.

He was reported missing two weeks later by his landlord and his body has never been found.

The Crown submitted that Mr Armstrong had a number of drug debts and, in the week before his death, he had told friends that a carload of people were coming from Gympie to get money off him.

Justice Applegarth retired to consider the submissions and is expected to deliver a verdict early next week.

Originally published as Greg Armstrong murder trial: Judge retires to consider verdict

Greg Armstrong was last seen outside a Commonwealth Bank ATM in Adelaide Street, Maryborough on May 7, 1997.
Greg Armstrong was last seen outside a Commonwealth Bank ATM in Adelaide Street, Maryborough on May 7, 1997.

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