Be­head­ing ‘no mur­der’

De­fence seeks ac­quit­tal

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - HELEN KEMPTON

A MAN who has ad­mit­ted to cut­ting off his housemate’s head, drown­ing his dogs and then burn­ing his car should be ac­quit­ted of his mur­der, a jury has been told.

In the Supreme Court in Burnie, de­fence coun­sel Greg Richard­son said the “bizarre” ac­tions of his client Dar­ren Ward Gale, 53, were those of a man ter­ri­fied of be­ing falsely ac­cused of mur­der. Mr Gale has pleaded not guilty.

THE Crown had not proved how Noel Joseph Ing­ham had died in Ulver­stone three years ago and it should ac­quit the man ac­cused of killing him, a jury was told yes­ter­day.

In the Supreme Court in Burnie, de­fence coun­sel Greg Richard­son said it re­mained open that Mr Ing­ham died as the re­sult of an ac­ci­dent.

Mr Richard­son said his client’s “bizarre” ac­tions af­ter Mr Ing­ham’s death were those of a man ter­ri­fied of be­ing falsely ac­cused of mur­der.

Dar­ren Ward Gale, 53, has pleaded not guilty to killing Mr Ing­ham, 58, in the West Ulver­stone unit he shared with the older man in 2016.

The mur­der trial has run for more than 40 days and in­volved 60 wit­nesses. But there has been no ev­i­dence, other than that given by the ac­cused, about how Noel Ing­ham died in his Co­lac St unit.

“He ei­ther met his death how Mr Gale de­scribed it on oath or you don’t know how he died,” Mr Richard­son said in his clos­ing ad­dress.

In the stand, Gale told the jury he had buried Mr Ing­ham in bush­land near Rail­ton, cut off his head, put it in a back­pack and threw it off the Mersey River bridge as he re­turned to Ulver­stone on a bicycle. Gale also ad­mit­ted drown­ing his for­mer flat­mate’s two dogs, burn­ing his car, giv­ing away or sell­ing most of his pos­ses­sions and ly­ing about his knowl­edge of Mr Ing­ham’s where­abouts.

But Mr Richard­son said: “The en­tire case is based on ‘you can as­sume that Gale killed Noel Ing­ham by what he did af­ter the death’. But they are equably ex­plain­able as the ac­tions of some­one try­ing to avoid a false ac­cu­sa­tion.”

Gale told the jury he had ar­gued with an in­tox­i­cated Noel Ing­ham on July 29, 2016 in the lounge­room of the unit. He said he left the room and Mr Ing­ham threw an axe han­dle at him. Gale said he kept walk­ing to­wards his bed­room be­fore he heard a loud bang and re­turned to find Mr Ing­ham slumped across the fish tank with a head wound.

In phone calls to a friend from Ris­don Prison, Gale said po­lice had “noth­ing af­ter the fact” and were “grasp­ing at straws”. “I’m not guilty of what they are say­ing and I can nearly prove it,” he said in the recorded con­ver­sa­tion.

Mr Richard­son told the jury if Mr Gale’s ver­sion of events re­mained open as a pos­si­bil­ity it must find him not guilty.

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