R v BUNTING & OTHERS (NO 3)
No. SCCRM-01-205  SASC 251 (29 October 2003)
Supreme Court of South Australia
Criminal: Reasons for Rulings
MARTIN J John Justin Bunting, Mark Ray Haydon and
Robert Joe Wagner were charged jointly with 11 counts of murder
alleged to have been committed between December 1995 and May 1999.
In addition, Bunting and Haydon were charged jointly with a further
count of murder alleged to have been committed in 1992 and Wagner
was charged with Assisting Offenders in connection with that crime
of murder. Prior to the empanelment of the jury, each accused sought
an order that they be tried separately from the other accused. In
addition there were applications for severance of counts. Following
lengthy submissions I made various rulings which had the effect of
separating the trial of Haydon from the trial of Bunting and Wagner
and of requiring Bunting and Wagner to be tried together on all
counts. I now set out my reasons for making those orders.
It is the Crown case that the murders were
committed as part of a joint enterprise between the accused which
had as its object or common purpose the killing of persons it was
considered appropriate or necessary to kill. The Crown allege that
the enterprise began with the intention of killing persons believed
to be paedophiles, but developed to encompass others it was
considered appropriate to kill for varying reasons.
All counts except Count 2 charge the crime of
murder. Bunting and Haydon are charged with Count 1 and Wagner is
charged with Count 2. All three accused are jointly charged on the
remaining counts. The counts, dates alleged and victims are as
Count 1: 9 July 1992 - 31 August 1992: Clinton
Count 2: 9 July 1992 - 31 August 1992: Assisting
Offenders with respect to the crime charged in Count 1
Count 3: 25 December 1995 - 21 January 1996: Ray
Allan Peter Davies
Count 4: 20 November 1996 - 10 December 1996:
Suzanne Phyllis Allen
Count 5: 31 August 1997 - 17 September 1997:
Michael James Gardiner
Count 6: 15 October 1997 - 15 November 1997: Barry
Count 7: 3 November 1997 - 6 November 1997: Thomas
Count 8: 3 April 1998 - 8 April 1998: Gavin Allan
Count 9: 25 August 1998 - 8 September 1998: Troy
Count 10: 16 September 1998 - 19 September 1998:
Frederick Robert Brooks
Count 11: 27 October 1998 - 14 November 1998: Gary
Count 12: 20 November 1998 - 26 November 1998:
Count 13: 9 May 1999: David Terence Johnson
It is the Crown case that Bunting and Haydon
actively participated in the murder of Trezise and that Wagner
assisted them after the murder. The Crown says that Bunting and
Wagner actively participated in the other murders. As to the
involvement of Haydon in the other murders, it is the Crown case
that he was present when Youde (Count 9) was killed. There is no
evidence to suggest that Haydon was present at the time that any
deceased other than Trezise and Youde were killed. However, the
Crown says that he was party to a common purpose which encompassed
the killing of all the deceased and that on each occasion he was
ready, willing and able to assist.
In order to determine the applications for
separation and severance, it is necessary to consider the proposed
evidence and its likely cogency in considerable detail. Any
assessment of the evidence is necessarily provisional as it is based
upon statements, limited oral evidence at the preliminary
examination and lengthy interviews with Vlassakis and other
witnesses. It is also necessary to address questions of
admissibility, risk of misuse and potential prejudice that might be
caused in a joint trial. In addition, counsel raised questions as to
the capacity of a jury to cope with a single trial on all counts. It
was argued that the volume of material is so great that a jury would
be unable to assimilate, recall and properly assess the evidence
such that the accused will be deprived of their right to a fair
trial. Counsel contended that the directions as to the proper uses
of evidence would be so lengthy and complicated that a jury would
not have the capacity to fully understand and apply the directions.
Alternatively, the risks in these respects are so great that some
form of separation or severance is necessary in order to achieve a
James Spyridon Vlassakis
In canvassing the evidence with respect to each
count, repeated reference is made to evidence that the Crown intends
to lead from Mr James Vlassakis. He was originally presented jointly
with the accused on five of the 12 counts of murder. The preliminary
examination commenced on 13 December 2000. On 21 June 2001, prior to
the conclusion of the preliminary examination, Vlassakis was
presented in the Supreme Court on an Information charging him with
four of those five counts of murder. He pleaded guilty to those four
counts (Youde, Brooks, O'Dwyer and Johnson). The Crown discontinued
the fifth count of murder (Porter) in the Magistrates Court.
Police first conducted an induced interview with
Vlassakis in May 1999. Following his pleas of guilty, over the
period 24 July 2001 to 28 September 2001 a second interview was
conducted which comprises almost 2,000 pages of transcript. The
content of the second interview is presented by the Crown as
containing, in substance, the evidence that the Crown intends to
lead from Vlassakis. References throughout these reasons to what
Vlassakis says are references to what the Crown, based on the
interviews, understands Vlassakis will say in evidence.
In these reasons, reference is made to a number
of addresses. At different times Bunting lived at 203 Waterloo
Corner Road, Salisbury North, 3 Burdekin Avenue, Murray Bridge and
49 Bundarra Court, Craigmore. I will refer to those premises as
Waterloo Corner Road, Burdekin Avenue and Bundarra Court. Wagner
lived at 36 Mofflin Road, Elizabeth Grove and Haydon lived at 4
Blackham Crescent, Smithfield Plains. I will refer to those premises
as Mofflin Road and Blackham Crescent.
In the reasons that follow, under the headings of
each deceased I have endeavoured to summarise the main features of
the evidence with respect to each count.
Clinton Trezise - (Counts 1 and 2)
A body said by the Crown to be that of Trezise
was found buried in a shallow grave at Lower Light on 16 August
1994. A post-mortem examination revealed fractures of the skull
which were consistent with having been caused by blows from a blunt
object to the back of the head.
Trezise was last seen alive in August 1992.
Counsel for Bunting submitted that a real issue exists as to whether
the Crown is able to prove that the body found at Lower Light on 16
August 1994 was that of Trezise. Dr Jane Taylor has compared a 1989
X-ray of the deceased's skull with the skull of the body found at
Lower Light. She has expressed the opinion that the X-ray is
probably a picture of the same skull that was located at Lower
Trezise was known to Bunting and Wagner. At the
relevant time Haydon was associating with Bunting. Ms Raelene Brown
met Bunting in about August or September 1993. She met Haydon in
about January or February 1994. He was introduced by Bunting as a
friend. She saw Haydon with Bunting on about four occasions up to
April 1994 when she shifted address.
Brown says that Bunting visited her and her
fianc้ on a few occasions before introducing Haydon. From that time
on, Bunting was always in the company of Haydon. She says that from
about the second visit onwards, Bunting was always talking about
killing and torture. On the occasions that she saw Bunting and
Haydon together at her home, she heard them talk about "weird things".
Bunting did most of the talking. Haydon was quiet and rarely spoke.
Bunting spoke in detail about paedophiles, homosexuals and torturing
and killing people, as well as making people disappear. A jury could
infer that Bunting displayed a hate for paedophiles and homosexuals.
Brown recalls mention of the names Robert Wagner, Barry Lane and Von
The first statement given by Brown is dated 30
July 1999. In that statement there is no mention of the name Trezise.
In a later statement dated 18 December 2000, Brown says that the
name Trezise "constantly came up in the conversations" with Bunting
and Haydon. She recalls that they said Trezise was gay, but they
were not sure whether he was "into the kids as well". Bunting had
said that Trezise "didn't deserve to live".
Brown was cross-examined during the preliminary
examination about the mention of Trezise. In that evidence she said
that the name came up when she first met Bunting and she was not
sure if it had been mentioned again.
Trezise and another deceased, Lane, had been
homosexual partners. At the time that Trezise disappeared, Wagner
and Lane were living together in a sexual relationship.
On 5 May 1997 a television programme called "Australia's
Most Wanted" presented a missing persons segment concerning Trezise.
On 27 August 1998 the same programme showed footage of the skeleton
at Lower Light, but no connection was made by the programme between
the skeleton and Trezise. According to Vlassakis, the latter
programme was watched by him in company with his mother, Ms
Elizabeth Harvey, and Bunting. Harvey, who was then married to
Bunting, has died of cancer. Vlassakis says that when reference was
made to the body at Lower Light, Bunting said "That's my handiwork".
Subsequently Bunting told Vlassakis that he and Haydon murdered
Trezise at Waterloo Corner Road. Bunting also said that he had Lane
and Wagner assist in burying the body. According to Vlassakis,
Wagner told him that Bunting asked Lane and Wagner to assist and
that they had been involved in burying the body. On occasions Wagner
said "We have buried someone out there".
The above account by Vlassakis was given in his
second interview. In the first interview of May 1999, Vlassakis said
that he thought Bunting told him that it was just Bunting who killed
a person identified as "Happy Pants". In another answer he said he
was not sure if he was told that it was Bunting alone or Bunting and
Haydon. In the first interview Vlassakis said he thought Bunting
told him that he had "lost it" and "smacked" the deceased on the
head with a hammer. In the second interview he said he did not think
he was told how the deceased had been killed and speculated that
there was mention of strangling or hitting with a hammer.
As to why "Happy Pants" was killed, in the second
interview Vlassakis says that he was not given a reason, but adds
that Bunting said that the deceased was a paedophile. At that time
Vlassakis did not know the proper name of the deceased as Bunting
referred to him as "Happy Pants". He identified that person as
Trezise after reading the post-mortem report and the Crown evidence.
On 25 May 1999, four days after the accused were
arrested, Vlassakis participated in a telephone conversation which
was recorded on a telephone intercept. He was heard to mention the
statement by Bunting to the effect of "that's my artwork" and he
made reference to the inability of the authorities to identify the
body. Vlassakis then spoke of he and his mother making a statement
which would enable the authorities to "pin" the crime on Bunting/"them".
On one view the recorded statement could be seen as demonstrating
that Vlassakis was preparing to make a false statement to the
authorities. On the other view, he was merely commenting on the
effect of his knowledge if he spoke to the authorities.
In his second interview on 25 July 2001,
Vlassakis initially says that he is unable to remember Haydon saying
anything about Trezise. However, in the continuation of that
interview on 23 August 2001, Vlassakis spoke of a conversation
between Bunting and Haydon about Trezise. The Crown rely on this
conversation as an admission by Haydon of his involvement in the
murder of Trezise:
"Q Mm. Now, take your time before you answer
this question, please, but - and I know you will - can you recall
if Mark Haydon was ever present during any conversations regarding
A Any conversations or - from when - when John
Bunting was talking to me about it? No, I couldn't say. Like, I
can't remember Mark Haydon being present, no, I think there was a
conversation with Mark Haydon and John Bunting - I couldn't
actually call it a conversation, like it was more comments made by
John Bunting and Mark Haydon about Happy Pants, which is Clinton
Trevice - Trezise.
A There were comments about him made, that I
remember by Mark Haydon, but I don't actually remember any - like
a conversation when Mark Haydon was present, exactly what happened
during the murder. I just remember a few comments about Happy
Pants. I remember there was - Mark Haydon said something about the
- the clothes he used to wear, the pants. That was also - I can't
remember if Mark Haydon was present when John Bunting told me that
Mark Haydon had told Elizabeth Haydon about the murder of Happy
Pants. I - I'm not sure if he was present on that conversation.
Q Who was that conversation between again.
A I remember myself, John Bunting.
A [A]t 4 Blackham Crescent, when we were living
at 3 Burdekin Avenue, and commuting every day to Adelaide.
A [A]nd seeing Mark Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon,
Gail Sinclair, and before Fred Brooks' murder there was a
conversation between John and myself about Elizabeth Harvey -
Elizabeth Haydon, and the fact that Mark Haydon had told Elizabeth
Haydon about Clint - well, Happy Pants' death, how - the fact that
they used Barry Lane and Robert Wagner to take the body and what
happened on the day and that, on the actual murder - what happened
there. I remember that conversation at the house with John Bunting,
but I just can't remember if Mark Haydon was actually talking. No,
so Mark Haydon was telling John Bunting, and I was there, that he
had told Elizabeth about the murder - or Audrey about the murder.
Mark Haydon was telling - I was there, John Bunting, Mark Haydon
and Mark Haydon was telling John Bunting of what he said to
Elizabeth Haydon, and Mark Haydon and John Bunting were talking -
I didn't make any comments. I was just listening to that
conversation between them two and then it was after that, I think
on the way home, that John Bunting then again told me a few things
of what happened on that night, or day - sorry, day - and the fact
that Veronica, John Bunting's wife, had to - when she came home
there was all the blood on the floor and that, and how she had to
clean it up. That's the only conversation that I remember, like a
conversation with Mark Haydon and John Bunting about that. That's
why I said I can't really call that a conversation because I
wasn't talking in that conversation, I was just listening. It was
between John and Mark."
A little later in the interview, Vlassakis gave
further answers concerning the conversation that he overheard:
"Q Okay. If I can just take you back to the
conversation at 4 Blackham which you were - you could hear but you
weren't - you didn't take a part in.
Q It was a conversation between Mark Haydon and
A John Bunting.
Q John Bunting. Do you know why the subject of
Happy Pants come (sic) up.
A That's what I said, I can't remember why the
subject came up, but it was Mark Haydon talking to John Bunting
and telling him the fact that he told Elizabeth Haydon - Audrey -
of what happened to Happy Pants.
A Well, the murder of Happy Pants, that - and
he was saying that he - how he was involved and - and had that -
you know, he told her everything, that - you know, that Robert and
- after John had killed Happy Pants, that they went down the road
and they grabbed Robert and Barry - Robert Wagner and Barry Lane -
because they were together - living together at that stage - and
the fact that they drove out there and the fact that the body had
been found and things like that. So they - he was telling John
that he told Audrey in that - in conversation between them two."
Vlassakis also relates an event relevant to the
murder of Trezise that he says he witnessed during the murder of
Youde (Count 9) in late August or early September 1998. He says that
shortly before Wagner strangled Youde, Bunting knelt down in front
of Youde and started to list the names of the people he had killed.
According to Vlassakis, Haydon participated. Vlassakis gave the
following descriptions of that episode:
"... just before Robert started to strangle
Troy, John Bunting had knelt down and started to say to Troy of
the people that he had killed. And Mark Haydon was in there and he
would list off the names which were the people that had previously
been murdered, which was Happy Pants, then they said Ray - or
actually Jimmy, which was Ray Davies - Barry, Michael, Barry Lane
and Michael Gardiner, and Gavin Porter. Well, they actually just -
just said their first names, and repeated a few of the names and
John was saying, 'Oh, there's too many' and then he would - then
he asked Mark if he left any out and Mark said a few - a couple of
names, and that was it, and that's when Robert started to strangle
Q Okay. Present in the bathroom when Troy was
Q [Y]ou've previously mentioned that Mark
Haydon was present.
A That's correct.
Q Was Mark reading off anything.
A No, no, he was just - as I said, John Bunting
used to tell Mark of everything that happened.
A Of all the murders, everything he used to
A When he started listing off the names to Troy,
Robert was also saying a few names and he asked Mark did he leave
any out, and then he asked Robert if he'd left any out, and then
he asked me if he left any out.
A And Mark is like was thinking and Robert was
saying a few names and that, and then Mark said a few and
Q Okay. Do you recall what names Mark Haydon
used, or said.
A No, he just repeated the names that John
Bunting said already.
Q Okay. And did those names include Happy Pants.
Q Do you actually recall that.
A Yes, that was the first name that was
mentioned by John and - by John, Robert and Mark. I do also
remember a conversation with Robert about Happy Pants as well,
having with Robert about the - when they - when - he used to talk
about that all the time actually. It was when John come (sic) down
to ask Barry Lane and Robert to take the - Happy Pants to where
they buried him and that. He also said about the fact that the
ground was like clay and that and they couldn't dig very far and
Q This is a conversation you had with Robert
A Yes, and John Bunting.
A There was (sic) quite a few on that topic.
Q Was Mark Haydon every (sic) present for those
A Not - not with Robert Wagner, no.
A There was only that - the only conversation I
remember with Mark Haydon was with - with - when he said that he
A And there was (sic) also some details given,
but I can't remember the details."
The Crown also sought to rely upon evidence to be
given by Mr Anthony Stewart. Elizabeth Haydon was his sister. He
says that during a conversation with Haydon and others in mid-1994,
he spoke of difficulties he was experiencing with his brother and
commented that he would like to make his brother disappear. Later in
the same conversation a female person expressed concern about a male
person finding her. In this context, Stewart says that Haydon said
words to the effect:
"You don't have to worry about him. I made
someone else disappear and the police will not find him."
Ms Tammy McKenzie was Stewart's partner.
According to Stewart, she was present during the conversation.
McKenzie's statement refers to an occasion which may not be the same
occasion to which Stewart refers. She heard a conversation between
Stewart and Haydon in which Haydon was upset by a comment made by
Stewart and threatened to punch Stewart's head in. She says that as
the conversation proceeded, Haydon said something similar to "I
murdered someone". She is unable to recall the precise words, but
says it was as if Haydon was bragging to Stewart. According to
McKenzie, Haydon said that a couple of friends had helped him kill a
male person and then get rid of the body. He said that the person
had done something to annoy and upset him and, as a result, Haydon
and his friends murdered that person. Haydon said something like "That's
one body they'll never find".
Ms Veronika Tripp met Bunting in about January
1989. She says that in 1993 she and Bunting had dinner with Wagner
and Lane at 1 Bingham Road, Salisbury North. Those premises were
occupied by Wagner and Lane. After a discussion between the three
men, the contents of which Tripp did not overhear, the men left the
premises. Lane locked Tripp inside the house. She saw them walking
toward Waterloo Corner Road. It was still daylight. The men arrived
home at about 10.00 pm. A few days later Lane spoke to Tripp and
told her that he had helped dispose of a body.
On a subsequent occasion, Lane again told Tripp
that he had helped dispose of a body. He told Tripp that Bunting had
killed someone at Waterloo Corner Road by hitting "it" on the head
with the back of a shovel. He said they disposed of the body at
Lower Light. During one of the conversations Lane mentioned the name
Colin Trezise. Lane told Tripp not to mention the conversation to
Tripp says that she told Bunting what Lane had
said to her. She asked Bunting what Lane was talking about and
Bunting told her that he was making it up and to ignore him. Tripp
says that in subsequent conversations Bunting told her that he had
killed a person called Clinton Trezise and buried him at Lower
Light. He told Tripp to be quiet about it and not to tell anyone.
Lane also made statements to other persons from
which a jury could infer that Lane had knowledge of the murder of
Counsel for Bunting urged that particular care is
needed in considering the reliability of the evidence given by Tripp.
From cross-examination at the preliminary examination, it emerged
that Tripp has suffered from both physical and mental disabilities.
Counsel suggested that when Tripp gave her evidence it was obvious
that she is a person of limited capacity.
Ray Davies - (Count 3)
Davies was last seen alive in late 1995. On 26
May 1999 police found the body of Davies buried in a hole at the
rear of Waterloo Corner Road. The body of Suzanne Allen (Count 4)
was found in the same hole three days earlier. At the times Davies
and Allen disappeared, the property was occupied by Bunting.
The cause of Davies' death was not apparent on
In about 1993, Davies and Allen had a
relationship and lived together. The relationship ended after
Allen's grandsons complained that Davies had made sexual advances to
them. They remained friends and, immediately prior to his
disappearance, Davies was living in a caravan parked at the rear of
Allen's home at 3 Ghent Street, Salisbury North. The accused and
Vlassakis were associates of Allen. There is evidence of an
association involving Davies, Lane and Wagner.
Ms Annette Cannon is the daughter of Allen and
the mother of the boys to whom Davies was said to have made the
advances. She spent Christmas Day 1995 with Allen and Davies. The
following day her seven year old son told her and Allen that Davies
had sexually assaulted him and tried to sexually assault another of
Cannon's sons. Cannon and Allen reported the matter to the police.
On their return to the home, Davies had left. His caravan and
belongings were still at the premises.
Cannon did not see Davies again. Subsequently
Cannon observed Bunting, Wagner and Allen cleaning out the caravan.
Bunting gave Cannon a photo of her two sons which had apparently
come from the caravan. Bunting commented that Davies was a
paedophile and that was why he had the photograph.
Within approximately two weeks of Davies
disappearing, Cannon saw Bunting, Wagner and Lane remove the caravan.
The caravan was towed by a vehicle driven by Lane. Vlassakis says
that he saw the caravan in the front yard of premises at 14 Catalina
Road, Elizabeth. Those premises were occupied by Haydon and
Elizabeth Haydon. Harvey also lived at those premises. Vlassakis was
involved in cleaning up the caravan and painting it. Bunting and
Haydon were also involved.
The caravan was sold while at 14 Catalina Road.
It was towed away from the premises on 20 January 1996. A receipt
for the sale was subsequently found in a U-Store-It premises rented
by Bunting. The signature on the document was written by Bunting.
Vlassakis was present and observed Bunting sign the document. The
registration papers for the caravan were located in a wallet found
in a black "bum bag" in a Ford Marqis at Mofflin Road. The Marquis
was registered in the name of Laura Martin. That name was used by
Two or three weeks after the caravan was removed
from Allen's premises, Cannon overheard a conversation between Allen
and Bunting at Waterloo Corner Road. Wagner was present. Cannon's
statement reads as follows:
"I heard John [Bunting] say to Chris and Mum [Allen]
words to the effect of, 'We took Ray for a drive in the car.' I
know they had a white Torana at the time. John said while he was
driving, 'Robert [Wagner] was pounding him down and trying to keep
him down so that no-one could see what was going on in the back
seat.' He made hand movements indicating punching down. It sounded
like Ray was on the floor of the car. He said that they 'dropped
him off in the middle of the scrub somewhere and made him walk
back towards town.' They didn't say if he was hurt or bleeding or
anything. John was laughing about it. Robert had a big cheesy
smile on his face. He didn't say much apart from saying it was
really good. They did not say why they were taking Ray for a
'drive'. I did not tell either of them that Ray had interfered
with my children. The only people I told were the police and my
mum. My mum looked a bit stunned when Bunting told her this."
As mentioned, the body of Davies was found in a
hole at the rear of premises that had been occupied by Bunting at
Waterloo Corner Road. Bunting moved into those premises with his
partner Tripp in early 1991. Lane and Wagner were visiting next door
at 205 Waterloo Corner Road in the premises of Mr Robert Skewes.
Those three men helped Bunting and Tripp move into the premises.
This was the occasion on which Bunting first met Wagner and Lane.
According to Tripp, about a year after they moved in Bunting began
digging under a tank stand at the rear of the premises. Tripp
understood that Bunting was digging a tunnel. He told her it was
going to be a bomb shelter. Bunting began the work on his own.
Subsequently Wagner and Haydon assisted him.
According to the neighbour Skewes, the hole was
filled in by Bunting, Wagner and Lane. They used bricks and soil.
After Bunting vacated the premises, Skewes was aware of the ground
in the area of the hole sinking. In late 1998 or early 1999 while
the house was vacant, Bunting and Wagner visited Skewes. Bunting
asked if the hole was still under the tank stand and commented that
if it was the Housing Trust would bill him for it. Bunting and
Wagner had a look at the hole under the tank stand. They told Skewes
it had sunk a bit and that they would obtain some ready-mixed
concrete to put over the top. They left and returned the same day
with two bags of cement which they mixed on the driveway of the
premises occupied by Skewes. They used two bags and apparently put
the mixed cement into the hole.
The Crown also relies upon admissions to
Vlassakis. In the first interview he says he was told by Bunting
that "they" took Davies from Ghent Street to Bakara, a property
approximately 21 kilometres from Swan Reach. He was told that "they"
tortured Davies at Bakara and then, while he was still alive, took
him to Waterloo Corner Road. Vlassakis says he was told by Bunting
that, at Waterloo Corner Road, Wagner strangled Davies using jumper
leads. The strangling occurred in the bathroom. At the time of the
strangling Vlassakis' mother, Harvey, was in the kitchen.
In his second interview, Vlassakis gives a
similar version about the taking of Davies to Bakara, the torture
and returning to Waterloo Corner Road. Vlassakis says Bunting told
him "they" put Davies in the "hole". He also says he was told that
his mother became involved. She stabbed Davies up and down his legs
with a ceramic cleaning tool. Vlassakis was told that his mother and
Wagner together strangled Davies. Harvey died before the second
interview. Vlassakis says that he did not previously mention his
mother's involvement because he wanted to protect her.
According to Vlassakis, he gained the information
by hearing bits and pieces from Bunting over a period of time. As to
a motive, he said he was told by Bunting that Davies was a
paedophile and had interfered with Cannon's children. Vlassakis says
that both Bunting and Wagner talked freely about killing Davies. He
said they made jokes and laughed about it. They laughed as they were
telling him about torturing Davies. Vlassakis says that there was no
suggestion that Haydon was involved in the murder of Davies, nor was
Haydon present at conversations about this murder.
According to Vlassakis, Bunting told him that he,
Vlassakis, knocked on the door at about the time Davies was being
killed and was told to go away. Vlassakis says that there was an
occasion when he knocked on the door and, after a delay, the door
was answered by his mother. Bunting and Wagner were in the premises.
He could see that Wagner was holding something about the size of a
jack handle in his hand. They told him to go away and not come in.
Vlassakis also said that the name "Jimmy", which
was a reference to Davies, was one of the names listed by Bunting to
Youde immediately before the murder of Youde.
As will appear later in these reasons, the Crown
seeks to demonstrate that the accused sought to benefit from the
deaths of a number of the deceased by making use of their property.
This included the sale of Davies' caravan. In addition, the Crown
sought to establish that the accused created the impression that a
number of the deceased were alive in order to ensure the
continuation of social security benefits ("Centrelink benefits")
being received by the deceased and to enable the accused to access
those benefits. The first deceased in respect of which such a fraud
was perpetrated was Davies.
By various means it was represented to Centrelink
that Davies was still alive. Seven changes of address for Davies
were notified after his death. At one of those addresses, the
Riversedge Caravan Park at Tailem Bend, Bunting impersonated Davies
and stayed at the caravan park. A receipt in respect of the payment
for that accommodation in the name of Davies was subsequently found
in the Ford Marquis at Mofflin Road. One of the addresses given to
Centrelink was a former address occupied by Wagner and Lane and
another was next door to the former premises of Bunting at Waterloo
On a number of occasions between January and
April 1999, Bunting was filmed by security cameras accessing Davies'
account. Banking records demonstrate that from about the time
Bunting commenced living at Murray Bridge, the vast majority of
withdrawals occurred at Murray Bridge locations. Withdrawals at
Murray Bridge ceased at about the time that Bunting returned to
Adelaide to live. On 23 December 1996 and 18 September 1997, within
a minute or so of withdrawals from Bunting's account, withdrawals
occurred at the same location from the accounts of Davies and
another deceased, Allen. It appears that approximately $32,000 was
falsely obtained by accessing Lane's benefits.
The Crown sought to link both Bunting and Wagner
to the ongoing fraud by reference to documents found at Bundarra
Court and Mofflin Road. Numerous documents connected to Davies were
found in the house and rear yard at Bundarra Court. A number of
similar documents were found in the Ford Marquis at Mofflin Road.
In addition to documentation related to Davies,
the Crown also relies upon items found in the U-Store-It unit rented
by Bunting. DNA consistent with that of Davies was found on a blood
stained t-shirt, underpants stained with blood and faeces, a blood
stain on an electrical cord and the outer surface of a glove found
in the unit. A letter sent to Davies by his parents after Davies'
disappearance was also located in the unit.
Suzanne Allen - (Count 4)
Allen was last seen alive in late November 1996.
As mentioned, her body was found on 23 May 1999 in the hole at the
rear of Waterloo Corner Road above the body of Davies. A post-mortem
examination was unable to determine the cause of her death. There
were no fractures. Dismemberment and defleshing had occurred. Parts
of Allen's body were found in eleven plastic bags. Remnants of rope
were found in two of the bags.
By late 1995 Bunting and Allen had a relationship.
Bunting ended the relationship by mid 1996. It appears that Allen
was unwilling to accept that the relationship was finished. Bunting
told Allen's daughter, Annette Cannon, that he was sick of receiving
notes from Allen and to tell Allen to stop sending notes and driving
past the residence occupied by Bunting.
Vlassakis says he was given information about the
death of Allen. However, the information provided to Vlassakis by
Bunting is an unusual aspect of the Crown case because Bunting told
Vlassakis that Allen died of natural causes. According to the Crown
that statement was untrue. Vlassakis says that Bunting told him that
he and Wagner were involved in a "slice and dice" meaning they
dismembered Allen's body. He was told that Allen's dismembered body
was put in the same hole as the body of Davies. Both Bunting and
Wagner gave information about Allen's death to Vlassakis.
According to Vlassakis, Bunting wanted Allen's
property and pension. Bunting and Wagner were also involved in
removing the property of Allen from her home shortly after her
disappearance. They were observed removing property on 3 December
1996. A neighbour called the police who were told that Bunting and
Wagner were helping a friend move house. A contact number was given
to the police. That number was in the name of Laura Martin, a name
used by Harvey. When police communications called the number, a
woman answered and said Allen was not available.
Bunting assumed control of Allen's Nissan Pulsar
motor vehicle. He took it to the home of Wagner's mother. He said it
needed repairing. Subsequently, with the assistance of a witness, Mr
Freeman, the Pulsar was moved to Burdekin Avenue. The vehicle was
then re-registered and insured in the name of Harvey. On 18
September 1998 Bunting and Vlassakis were in the vehicle when it
caught fire. A claim was made pursuant to an insurance policy and
the proceeds were paid to Harvey.
For the purposes of removing property from
Allen's home, Wagner borrowed a truck from a business called Steptoe
& Son. When the truck was returned, Wagner was with Bunting. Some of
Allen's property was sold to the owner of the truck for $10.
Ms Jodie Elliott was a friend of Bunting. In 1998
she had a relationship with Bunting. Elliott lived at Blackham
Crescent with Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon. She slept in the shed at
the rear of the premises. Bunting arranged for Harvey and Elliott to
impersonate Allen for the purpose of maintaining Allen's pension.
Bunting derived financial benefit through that fraud. It appears
that a little in excess of $17,000 was obtained from late 1996
through to 1999. Bunting was filmed accessing the benefits on two
occasions. From December 1996 until early February 1999, almost all
of the accesses to Allen's account occurred at Murray Bridge.
Bunting was living at Murray Bridge during this period. When Bunting
moved from Murray Bridge to Adelaide, the pattern of accessing
Allen's account changed. From early February 1999 onwards almost all
of the accesses occurred in the Elizabeth area.
After the death of Allen, five different
addresses were provided to Centrelink as part of the representation
that Allen was still alive. Two of those addresses were residences
at Murray Bridge in which Bunting lived with Harvey. Centrelink
documentation addressed to Allen at those addresses was subsequently
located at Bundarra Court and in a Sigma motor vehicle registered to
Harvey which was located at Blackham Crescent. Elliott registered a
post office box address and gave that address to Centrelink as the
address for Allen.
As part of providing residences in the name of
Allen, on 17 September 1998 Haydon drove Elliott and Elizabeth
Haydon to Owen. Bunting had found a property and told Elliott to
rent the property in Allen's name. Elliott says that Haydon drove
her to Owen in Haydon's four wheel drive vehicle because Bunting was
away on a job. She signed the rental document in the name of Allen.
On 10 December 1996 Allen was reported to the
police as a missing person. Elliott says that at the instigation of
Bunting, in March 1999 she travelled to Berri with the intention of
impersonating Allen and ringing Missing Persons. She was accompanied
by Bunting and Haydon. They travelled in Haydon's motor vehicle and
he drove. Bunting sat in front and Elliott in the rear. During the
trip Bunting talked about Allen and gave Elliott details of Allen's
background and family history. Counsel for Haydon pointed out that
initially Elliott told the police that the purpose of the trip was
not discussed until after they had arrived at Berri.
A large amount of documentation connected to
Allen was found in various rooms at Bundarra Court and in the
ceiling of those premises. That documentation included a memo book
containing the writing of the deceased Gardiner. A loose page in
that book contained personal details of Allen in the handwriting of
Bunting. A pink dressing gown belonging to Allen was found in a
plastic bag in the ceiling.
At Blackham Crescent, documentation relating to
Allen was found in Elliott's briefcase in the lounge room and in the
shed occupied by Elliott. Documentation relating to Allen was also
found in a Sigma motor vehicle registered in the name of Harvey
which was parked at Blackham Crescent.
On 18 December 1998, police seized clothing from
the main bedroom at Blackham Crescent as part of their investigation
into the disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon. Some of that clothing
was subsequently identified as belonging to Allen. However, Elliott
identifies the clothing as belonging to Elizabeth Haydon.
After the disappearance of Allen, Bunting and
Wagner were both involved in telling false stories about Allen and
her whereabouts to a close friend of Allen, Ms Carol Parker. Details
were provided mainly by Bunting, but often in the presence of Wagner.
At times Wagner would support Bunting. Vlassakis was present on
occasions and joined in the giving of the false stories. Haydon was
also present on one occasion. However, Parker did not meet Haydon
until about January 1999.
On 1 April 1997, as a result of the missing
persons report, police spoke to Bunting. He said that Allen had
stayed with him, but had moved to Tasmania or Mildura. She did not
want her brother to know her whereabouts. Bunting told the police
that he would have her contact Missing Persons. On 2 April 1997 an
officer telephoned the address at which Bunting was living and spoke
to a person identifying himself as Bunting. The officer was told
that originally Allen had left for Tasmania at about Christmas time
1996. The officer was also told that Allen had recently stayed with
Bunting for a few days, but had left for Tasmania or Mildura.
Bunting said he believed that she was engaged to a Tasmanian called
Andy and that she was driving his vehicle.
Counsel for Haydon drew attention to evidence of
Elliott. In her interview with the police she describes how Bunting
arranged for her to impersonate Allen. During cross-examination at
the preliminary examination, Elliott said that when she discussed
with Bunting matters pertaining to the impersonation of Allen, the
discussions were private. They took place in the shed or she and
Bunting whispered. It appeared to her that Bunting did not want
Haydon to know about the matters they were discussing. These
conversations occurred in 1998. On the Crown case, eight murders had
been committed prior to the conversations in the course of an
ongoing enterprise. Counsel for Haydon asked why Bunting would be
seeking to keep the impersonation of Allen a secret from Haydon if
Haydon was part of an ongoing enterprise to kill as alleged by the
Crown. In response, the Crown referred to the evidence of Elliott
concerning the trip in March 1999 to Berri which is discussed
earlier in these reasons.
Michael Gardiner - (Count 5)
Gardiner was last seen alive early in September
1997. His body was found in a barrel in the bank vault at Snowtown.
The barrel also contained the body of Lane. A rope was around the
deceased's neck with a slip knot behind his right ear. His left foot
had been removed.
Gardiner lived in the residence of Ms Nicole
Zuritta, a cousin of Ms Veronica Mills (who lived with Wagner).
Zuritta's home address was not far from Mofflin Road. Gardiner was
openly homosexual. He disappeared while Zuritta was working near
Mildura. On 16 September 1997 a friend discovered that the premises
had been ransacked and Gardiner was not at the premises. There was
no sign of forced entry. Zuritta reported the matter to the police.
Ms Katerina Van Gelder was a friend of Gardiner.
She had known him since he was about six or seven years of age. In
about September 1997, Gardiner introduced her to Lane. Van Gelder
asked Gardiner not to bring Lane to the house again.
At about the time that Gardiner disappeared, Van
Gelder was expecting Gardiner to move to Goolwa and live at her
premises. She received a telephone call from Gardiner. She could
hear people in the background telling him to hurry up and get off
the phone. Van Gelder says that Gardiner's voice sounded funny in
the sense of being tense or upset about something. She also noticed
that he called her Auntie Kathy. She had previously told him not to
call her Auntie Kathy and to call her Katrina or Kathy. After she
had told him not to call her Auntie Kathy, he had not used that
title until this telephone call.
Van Gelder says the call was not a local call.
She heard the pips of an STD call. Their conversation lasted about
three or four minutes. Gardiner told her he was okay and that he
still wanted to move in with her and her children. He said it would
not be long, but he had something to sort out. Ven Gelder gave him
her address. She was still talking when the phone went dead.
According to Mills, Wagner did not like Gardiner
because Gardiner was gay and intimidated Wagner. Mills describes an
occasion when Gardiner placed his hand over a child's mouth to stop
the child from talking. Wagner was horrified. He told Mills that
when he was about eight years of age the same thing had happened to
him. Wagner told Mills bits and pieces, but said that if he told her
what had happened she would not be able to listen because it was too
graphic. Mills says Wagner could never calm down enough to tell her
the story. After the incident with the child, Wagner would not allow
Gardiner near their child or the other children of Mills unless he
or Mills was present.
Notwithstanding Wagner's feelings, Mills was very
close to Gardiner. After his disappearance she received a message on
her answering machine. The voice sounded too husky for Gardiner. In
the words of Mills, "It sounded like someone putting on a fag's
voice." The voice said that he had pinched property belonging to
Zuritta and was going to use the money to get a sex change. Mills
played the tape to Zuritta over the telephone.
Zuritta received a telephone call from a male
person saying that Gardiner wanted his wallet because he needed his
identification. She told the caller to tell Gardiner to come and get
it himself and she hung up. That evening, the male person called
again saying that Gardiner wanted his wallet and needed
identification to get money. Zuritta said she needed her property,
meaning the stolen property. The male said that Gardiner did not
want to face her and asked if she would meet the caller in the park
and hand over the wallet. She refused.
Zuritta then started receiving obscene calls. The
caller would introduce himself as Gardiner, but the voice sounded
nothing like him. Vlassakis was present when one of those calls was
made from Blackham Crescent. He says the call was made by Brooks at
the request of Bunting. Vlassakis is unable to say whether Haydon
During the sequence of events following
Gardiner's disappearance, Wagner told Zuritta that he and Bunting
had seen Gardiner at a service station on Prospect Road at Prospect.
In response to a question by Zuritta, Wagner said he did not grab
Gardiner and call the police because he did not want to be charged
with assault. Bunting and Mills were present during this
Vlassakis provides evidence of admissions by
Bunting and Wagner. He says that in about April 1998 at Burdekin
Avenue, Bunting showed him a barrel which Bunting said contained the
bodies of Lane and Gardiner. Subsequently, Bunting told him that
Gardiner had been taken from Zuritta's place to the shed at Burdekin
Avenue. Bunting told Vlassakis that he had strangled Gardiner with a
rope. There were a number of conversations about Gardiner involving
Bunting, Wagner and Vlassakis. The talking was done predominantly by
Bunting, but Wagner was also involved.
Vlassakis says that as far as he is aware Haydon
had no knowledge of the murder of Gardiner. However, Vlassakis also
says that Gardiner's Christian name was one of the names listed by
Bunting in the presence of Haydon immediately before Youde was
According to Vlassakis, Bunting asked him to
obtain Gardiner's wallet from Zuritta. He told him what to say.
Vlassakis visited Zuritta and told her he was intending to commit a
breaking offence and leave Gardiner's wallet behind or something to
set him up. Zuritta gave the wallet to Vlassakis. Subsequently
Vlassakis gave it to Bunting.
After the disappearance of Gardiner, his memo
book was found at Bundarra Court. As mentioned, the book contained a
loose page on which Allen's personal details were written in
The black bum bag found in the Marquis at Mofflin
Road was similar to a bum bag owned by Gardiner. A bus pass holder
containing cards in the name of Gardiner was found in the bum bag.
The cards had been given to Vlassakis by Zuritta after Gardiner
disappeared. Vlassakis gave them to Bunting.
Barry Lane - (Count 6)
Lane was last seen alive in October 1997. His
body was found in a barrel in the bank vault. That barrel also
contained the body of Gardiner. There was a gag in the deceased's
mouth and tape around his mouth. A rope was around the deceased's
neck. The body had been dismembered.
Lane and Wagner had been in a relationship from
about 1985 until early 1996. There is evidence to suggest that Lane
was originally dominant in the relationship, but that in latter
times Wagner became more assertive.
As mentioned, Lane and Wagner met Bunting when
Bunting moved into the property at Waterloo Corner Road. At that
time Lane and Wagner lived at 1 Bingham Road, Salisbury North. The
properties were in close proximity to each other. Lane was openly
homosexual. Notwithstanding Lane's homosexuality, Bunting regularly
associated with Lane. Vlassakis says that Bunting was always talking
about Lane being "dirty" and Bunting told Vlassakis that Lane was a
paedophile. In Bunting's bedroom at Waterloo Corner Road, Bunting
created a form of chart which has been referred to as a "rock spider
wall". The chart comprised various pieces of paper, some of which
were connected by pieces of wool. On those pieces of paper Bunting
wrote the names of persons that he considered were "dirty" because
they were homosexuals and paedophiles. These types of people were
also referred to as "rock spiders".
Pieces of paper that had been part of the wall
chart were found in the U-Store-It unit rented by Bunting and at
Bundarra Court. The pieces of paper show that names were connected
by lines in a manner that could be described as a flow chart. Lane's
name is written in the centre of one piece and is linked to other
names including that of Davies. It is the Crown case that the
document is in the handwriting of Bunting. Police also located a
typed document which could be described as a profile of Lane.
The Crown says that notwithstanding his hatred of
Lane, Bunting associated with Lane for the purposes of extracting
information from Lane about paedophiles. Vlassakis says that Bunting
was nice to Lane and that Bunting obtained information from Lane
about different paedophiles in the area. Vlassakis also refers to
conversations between Wagner and Lane about "dirties" in the
presence of Vlassakis and Haydon. If information was provided,
Bunting would check whether the name was on the wall chart. He used
post-it note stickers to add names or details.
It is the Crown case that there was an additional
reason for killing Lane. As mentioned, Lane told Tripp that he had
helped dispose of a body. He told her that Bunting had killed
someone by striking the person on the head with the back of shovel
and that the body had been disposed of at Lower Light. The Crown
submitted that the statements by Lane to Tripp demonstrate that Lane
had knowledge of the murder of Trezise and that Lane posed a risk to
those involved in killing Trezise. Vlassakis says Bunting spoke of
Lane having a "big mouth".
Further evidence of the attitude of Bunting and
Wagner to Lane is provided by officers of Family and Youth Services
("FAYS"). On 9 April 1996, Ms Julie Stevens of FAYS was allocated a
file in connection with Lane which involved questions of child
protection and supervised access. On 5 June 1996, using the name
Christine Johnson, Elizabeth Harvey contacted Stevens about Lane. An
interview was conducted at which Bunting was present. Bunting gave
the address of 14 Catalina Road, Elizabeth. Subsequently Wagner was
present. Allegations were made that Lane had sexually interfered
with the brother of Vlassakis. Stevens was also told that Wagner was
thirteen and a half years of age when Lane "got his hands on him".
Late on 17 October 1997 or in the early hours of
18 October 1997, Lane rang his mother, Mrs Sylvia Lane. Vlassakis
says this call was made at the instigation of Bunting with the
intention that Lane would abuse his mother and tell her he was
travelling to Queensland. Mrs Lane says that when Lane telephoned
her, he said he was travelling to Queensland to see his sister, Ms
Krystal Spencely-Smith. Lane called his mother a lot of bad names.
He told her he did not want anything to do with her or the family.
Trevilyan was in the background spurring Lane on.
Mrs Lane told Spencely-Smith that Lane was on his
way to Brisbane. A few minutes after receiving that information,
Spencely-Smith received a call from a person who identified himself
as her brother Barry saying he would be with her in a couple of days.
Spencely-Smith thought it was Lane, but the conversation was odd
because the caller did not identify himself in the manner usual for
Lane by saying "It's Barry".
Bearing in mind the evidence of Vlassakis
discussed later in these reasons that Bunting told him Trevilyan was
involved in the murder of Lane, the Crown also sought to lead
evidence that Lane was scared of Trevilyan. According to Mr Bruce
Balmer, a friend of Lane, during an evening on about 12 October 1997
he received a telephone call from Lane who was extremely distressed
and frightened. At Lane's request, Balmer went to the premises,
arriving at about 10.20 pm. Lane appeared to be distressed, but
Trevilyan was quiet. After about twenty minutes of casual discussion,
Lane left the premises. In the absence of Lane, Trevilyan told
Balmer that he liked Lane but was sick of Lane's sexual advances.
Lane returned at about 11.00 pm and Trevilyan went for a walk. In
the absence of Trevilyan, Lane asked whether Trevilyan had mentioned
threatening Lane. He then expressed fears for his life. Lane pleaded
with Balmer to stay the night, but Balmer declined.
On 27 October 1997 an ex fianc้ of Lane, Ms
Michelle Bihet, reported Lane missing. On 30 May 1998 police
telephoned the number connected to Mofflin Road. The officer spoke
to a person identifying himself as Wagner. She was told that he had
seen Lane a couple of weeks earlier at the Elizabeth City Centre
shops. Wagner said Lane was with a teenage boy and that Lane did not
see Wagner as Wagner had seen Lane first and avoided him.
Wagner also gave a false story to Mr Henry Smith,
the proprietor of Steptoe's Cheap Mart at Elizabeth South. Smith
knew Wagner and Lane as regular customers. He was aware of their
relationship and of the end of that relationship. Smith says that in
about September 1998 he commented to Wagner that he had not seen
Lane for some time. Wagner told him he was not likely to see Lane as
Lane had sold a car to some bikies and had done "a runner". Wagner
said that when the bikies found him, Lane would be face down dead
Vlassakis provides evidence of admissions by
Bunting and Wagner to the murder of Lane. He says they bragged about
it together. Bunting told him of torturing and murdering Lane. He
said that Trevilyan was involved. The description given by Bunting
to Vlassakis implicates both Bunting and Wagner in the torture and
murder of Lane. Bunting spoke of Lane having raped and abused Wagner
when he was a child. Bunting talked of a financial benefit in
connection with Lane as icing on the cake.
Vlassakis says that, on the information given to
him, Haydon was not involved in the murder of Lane. However, he says
Haydon was present for conversations about Lane's murder. In
particular, Vlassakis recalls a conversation when Bunting and Wagner
told Vlassakis and Haydon about wrapping Lane's body in a carpet. In
addition, Lane's name was one of those mentioned by Bunting to Youde
shortly before the murder of Youde.
After the murder of Lane, Bunting took possession
of Lane's motor vehicle. He took the motor vehicle to the home of
friends, Mr and Mrs Freeman. He said he had purchased the vehicle
from Lane for a television receiver and $50 cash. Later Bunting and
Mrs Freeman were involved in swapping Lane's vehicle for an orange
At the time of his disappearance, Lane was in
receipt of Centrelink benefits. The locality of withdrawals changed
in October 1997. The majority of withdrawals had previously occurred
in the areas of Rostrevor, Hectorville and Newton. From 27 October
1997, almost all of the withdrawals occurred in the Smithfield,
Elizabeth and Munno Para areas. It is the Crown case that Wagner was
filmed accessing Lane's benefits.
Two changes of address were given to Centrelink
for Lane. There is no record of Lane having lived at either address.
Both addresses are close to Mofflin Road. The first address was
vacant between 17 November 1997 and 26 June 1998. The second address
was vacant between 18 November 1997 and 14 August 1998. The card
necessary to gain access to Lane's account was found by Mills at
Mofflin Road after the arrest of Wagner.
The Crown sought to link the accused with Lane's
death by reason of their possession of property belonging to Lane or
associated with him. A sports bag belonging to Lane and a micro-cassette
from Lane's answering machine were found at Bundarra Court. A number
of documents connected with Lane were found in the ceiling of those
premises. A car ramp belonging to Lane was found in the U-Store-It
unit rented by Bunting.
In the Ford Marquis at Mofflin Road police found
a number of documents related to Lane, together with a pensioner
concession card and a Target card in Lane's name. Both cards
contained genuine signatures of Lane. A blanket identified by Mrs
Lane as belonging to Lane was found in Haydon's Toyota Landcruiser
Thomas Trevilyan - (Count 7)
Trevilyan's body was found on 5 November 1997
hanging from a tree in a remote locality in the Kersbrook area. A
damaged and empty milk carton crate was nearby. No means of
transport was present. The cause of death was attributed to the
hanging. The pathologist found no evidence to suggest that a second
person was involved in the death. At that time the authorities
treated the death as a suicide.
Counsel for Bunting indicated that the question
whether Trevilyan was murdered or committed suicide is a live issue
in the trial. In addition to the absence of any evidence to suggest
the involvement of a second person, counsel pointed out evidence
suggesting that Trevilyan was prone to unusual behaviour and had
experienced some psychiatric difficulties. He always wore army
fatigues and it was not uncommon for him to hike long distances on
foot without warning.
Lane and Trevilyan occupied the same premises
from about April 1997 until Trevilyan moved to Mofflin Road in
October 1997. Mills says that Wagner told her that Trevilyan had
come from Lane's place and needed somewhere to stay. Mills describes
Trevilyan as "crazy". She said every time there was a noise he would
bolt outside with a carving knife. Initially she and Trevilyan were
able to talk, but later he became "strange" and she could not
understand him. He would chop and change subjects. He was always
going for walks on his own. Trevilyan told Mills that he was
supposed to be on medication, but was not taking anything while he
was living at her premises.
Mills had three young children from previous
relationships. No difficulties arose with Trevilyan until 4 November
1997 when he threatened to kill a puppy that one of the children was
holding. Trevilyan chased the child with a knife in his hand. He was
threatening to cut the dog's throat. The child ran around a car to
keep away from Trevilyan. Mills was screaming at him to stop. A
passer-by took the dog and the incident came to a halt. Trevilyan
put the knife away and left the premises on foot.
The timing of the incident with the knife on 4
November 1997 is not clear. At 10.46 am, the Centrelink office at
Elizabeth issued a card which enabled access to Trevilyan's account.
The type of card issued required that the entire content of the
account be withdrawn by use of the card. At 10.58 am Trevilyan
withdrew $280 from his bank account leaving a nil balance.
Wagner was not present on 4 November 1997 at the
time of the incident with the knife. When he and Bunting
subsequently came to the house, Mills told them what had happened.
According to Mills, that evening Bunting and Wagner took Trevilyan
for a drive. Mills did not see Trevilyan again. Later that night
when Wagner returned home he attempted unsuccessfully to contact
Bunting on the telephone. Wagner told Mills that they had dropped
Trevilyan off at Gawler. On 5 November 1997 the body was discovered
and Mills received a telephone call from the police advising her
that Trevilyan was dead. Wagner appeared stunned at the news. On 6
November 1997 Wagner told Detective Bell that he last saw Trevilyan
on 4 November when Trevilyan left Wagner's premises after being
asked to leave. He did not mention taking Trevilyan for a drive.
Vlassakis says that Bunting told him that
Trevilyan had started to "fuck up" and "go mental". Bunting said
Trevilyan had a big mouth and would tell people about Lane. He said
that he and Wagner had hung Trevilyan out of a tree. Trevilyan was
made to stand on something and it was kicked out from under him.
Bunting told Vlassakis that it was easy to make the death look like
a suicide by leaving money in the deceased's pocket. Wagner was
present for one or two such conversations about Trevilyan.
According to Vlassakis, Bunting pointed out the
location of the hanging. Subsequently, Vlassakis was able to
indicate the general area to the police from a position 80 metres
from the tree.
As mentioned, Vlassakis says Bunting told him
that Trevilyan was involved in the murder of Lane. It is in that
context that the Crown submitted the statement by Bunting to
Vlassakis that Trevilyan had started to "fuck up" and "go mental"
must be assessed. In addition, the Crown sought to rely upon
evidence that shortly before his death Trevilyan spoke of being
involved in the murder.
On 30 October 1997 Trevilyan confided in his
cousin, Lenore Penner. She made an entry in her diary that evening.
Trevilyan gave enough details to Penner to support a conclusion that
Trevilyan possessed knowledge of the murder of Lane. The Crown
argued that possession by Trevilyan of such knowledge is relevant to
whether Trevilyan's death was suicide or murder. His knowledge bears
upon the question of a motive to kill him. The Crown also argued
that Trevilyan's knowledge and his state of mind are relevant to the
state of the relationship between Trevilyan and the accused Bunting
According to Vlassakis, Haydon has never been
mentioned in connection with Trevilyan's murder. Vlassakis cannot
remember any direct conversation that would have made Haydon aware
of the murder.
The death having been made to look like a
suicide, on the Crown case there was no occasion for attempting to
benefit from the use of Trevilyan's property or by gaining access to
his Centrelink entitlements. The only item of property connected to
Trevilyan that was subsequently located was a Scottish hat found in
a green garbage bag in the ceiling at Bundarra Court.
Gavin Porter - (Count 8)
Porter was last seen alive in April 1998. His
body was found in a barrel in the vault. The condition of the body
prevented a determination as to the cause of death.
Porter and Vlassakis were friends. Both used
heroin. At the time of his murder, Porter was living with Vlassakis,
Bunting and Harvey at Burdekin Avenue.
The murder of Porter came as a surprise to
Vlassakis. Neither Bunting nor Wagner had previously expressed any
desire to kill Porter. Vlassakis did not pick up any "vibes" that
Porter was a target. After Porter's murder, Bunting and Wagner
expressed concern about Porter's drug use and referred to him as "waste".
Porter was open about the absence of relatives. After the murder,
Bunting told Vlassakis that "it fell into our laps" and he would be
set for life with income.
Vlassakis says that at the time Porter was
murdered he had been told about previous murders but he had not seen
a body or a barrel containing a body. He says that he was told of
the circumstances of the murder of Porter by Bunting. Wagner also
spoke about it.
On the night of the murder, Vlassakis went to the
Murray Bridge Drive-In theatre. On his return to Burdekin Avenue, he
was told that Porter had been murdered by Bunting and Wagner while
Vlassakis was at the Drive-In. Vlassakis says that when he returned
to Burdekin Avenue, Porter's motor vehicle was at the premises.
Bunting and Wagner were inside. Bunting showed Vlassakis the body of
Porter in the shed. Vlassakis saw a large purple mark around the
deceased's neck. He was told that Wagner had a rope around the
deceased's neck, but the deceased lashed out in self-defence and
stabbed Bunting in the hand. Bunting said that he then jumped onto
the deceased and pushed all the air out of his chest.
It is the Crown case that at the time Porter's
body was placed in the shed, the barrel containing the bodies of
Gardiner and Lane was in the shed. Vlassakis recalls seeing the
barrel in the shed a couple of times. He is uncertain whether
Bunting opened that barrel on the night that Vlassakis saw the body
of Porter in the shed. He says he was told by Bunting that the
barrel contained the bodies of Gardiner and Lane.
Vlassakis says that within a couple of days of
the murder, Bunting arrived at the premises with a barrel in the
back seat of the Marquis. They took the barrel into the shed.
Bunting uncovered the body of Porter and items were moved in the
shed to make extra room. With the assistance of Vlassakis, Bunting
put the body of Porter into the barrel. Bunting placed a lid on the
barrel. The barrel containing the body of Porter was next to the
first barrel. Vlassakis says that Bunting took the lid off the first
barrel and made a comment to the effect that "they're rotting very
According to Vlassakis, he was told to drive
Porter's car to Adelaide. Property belonging to Porter was put in
the vehicle. Vlassakis drove the vehicle by himself and Wagner
followed in another vehicle. On the way to Mofflin Road they stopped
at Birdwood because Wagner said he was short on petrol. They waited
at Birdwood until they could obtain petrol early the following
morning. They then drove to Mofflin Road where Wagner removed
property from Porter's vehicle. Mills was at Mofflin Road and an
argument occurred between her and Wagner about who owned the vehicle.
Mills recognised the vehicle as belonging to Porter.
Vlassakis says that shortly after he and Wagner
arrived at Mofflin Road, Bunting arrived. Bunting spoke to Mills and
the argument ceased. Vlassakis drove Bunting back to Murray Bridge.
During the trip Bunting spoke about what had happened to Porter, but
Vlassakis is unable to remember what details were given to him.
Vlassakis says that in subsequent conversations when Bunting would
refer to earlier murders, Bunting always said that the murder of
Porter was a "funny one". He spoke about the positioning of the rope
around Porter's neck and of talking to Porter about moving his head
because the rope was caught up.
Following the murder of Porter, a number of false
stories were told about Porter's whereabouts. The stories were
mainly told by Vlassakis. Again, they were designed to create the
impression that Porter was alive.
According to Vlassakis, documentation belonging
to Porter was collected up by Bunting. A page from a book containing
personal details relating to Porter written in Bunting's handwriting
was found in the ceiling at Bundarra Court.
After the murder of Porter, at the instigation of
Bunting a fraud was perpetrated against Centrelink in respect of
Porter's benefits. Vlassakis and Bunting were involved in
impersonating Porter and another deceased, Brooks. Those
impersonations occurred on 23 September 1998, some months after the
death of Porter. Haydon was not involved in the impersonations or in
setting up the access to Porter's benefits.
The use of Porter's card to access his benefits
commenced in April 1998. According to Vlassakis, prior to Porter's
death he and Porter used each other's keycards to access their
accounts. After Porter's death, Bunting gave Porter's keycard to
Vlassakis and said he could access Porter's benefits. He had it only
a few weeks. It was cut off and he gave the card back to Bunting.
Vlassakis says that in 1999 when he moved back to
Bundarra Court, he discovered that Porter's keycard was still
operating and that Haydon had the card. He did not see Haydon use
the card. However, Haydon told him that he had the card. After the
subsequent murder of Brooks, the benefits of Brooks were paid into
Porter's account. Haydon told Vlassakis that he had to use Porter's
card to access the Centrelink benefits of Brooks.
As mentioned, when Vlassakis arrived at Mofflin
Road in Porter's vehicle, Mills recognised the vehicle. Subsequently,
Wagner admitted to Mills that the vehicle belonged to Porter. He
said that he was paying fifty dollars per fortnight for the vehicle.
He claimed Bunting was putting the money into Porter's account. That
vehicle was registered in the name of Mills on 4 April 1998. It was
found by police at Mofflin Road. The property of more than one
deceased was found in that vehicle.
Property belonging to Porter or connected to the
obtaining of Porter's benefits was found in the Ford Marquis at
Mofflin Road and at Bundarra Court. A book in which Bunting had
written Porter's PIN number and his family details was found in the
ceiling at Bundarra Court.
The premises occupied by Haydon at Blackham
Crescent were also linked to Porter. Two Centrelink letters post-dating
Porter's death were found in the shed. Haydon's fingerprints were
found on those documents. A Centrelink concession card in the name
of Porter was found in a pit in the shed. In the main bedroom of the
premises police found two ATM account inquiry receipts from Porter's
bank account dated after Porter's death. A Centrelink letter written
after Porter's death was also found in Haydon's Landcruiser.
Vlassakis says Porter's Christian name, Gavin,
was one of the names listed by Bunting to Youde in the presence of
Haydon shortly before Youde was murdered.
Counsel for Haydon referred to evidence
suggesting that Haydon had little contact with Bunting at the time
of Porter's murder. Vlassakis says that when he first met Bunting,
Haydon and Bunting were together all the time. However, after Haydon
started going out with Elizabeth Haydon and married her (24 February
1996), the relationship between Bunting and Haydon seemed to "fall
apart". This was about the time Wagner moved from Lane's house and
Bunting and Wagner formed a close relationship. Vlassakis says that
when he moved into Burdekin Avenue in about January or February
1998, Haydon was not associating with Bunting and Wagner. Their
relationship seemed to resume in mid-1998 when Haydon moved from
Catalina Road to Blackham Crescent.
Brown says that from about January to April 1994,
Bunting and Haydon were constant companions. In October 1995 Bunting
advised Centrelink that he had moved to Catalina Road, the address
at which Haydon was residing. As mentioned, Davies' caravan was
taken to Catalina Road and remained there until it was sold in
Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon were married on 24
February 1996. There is no positive evidence that a close
relationship existed between Bunting and Haydon from the time of the
marriage until June 1998. During this period, Bunting and Harvey
lived at Bakara until November 1996 when they moved to Lohmann
Street, Murray Bridge. A statement by Harvey made in May 1999
suggests that for a period of two and a half to three years before
May 1999 Bunting and Harvey had not associated with Haydon as a
consequence of a fall out between the families. The murders of Allen,
Gardiner, Lane, Trevilyan and Porter occurred from November 1996 to
April 1998. In respect of those deaths, other than by reasoning that
Haydon was part of a joint enterprise that encompassed these
killings, there is no evidence to connect Haydon to the killings nor
to events immediately before and immediately after those killings.
Evidence of the existence of a relationship in
mid-1998 is provided by Elliott. As mentioned, Haydon and Elizabeth
Haydon moved to Blackham Crescent in June 1998. Elliott moved from
Queensland to South Australia in 1998. She says that shortly before
the move she, Bunting, Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon travelled to
Queensland together to obtain property belonging to Elliott.
Troy Youde - (Count 9)
Youde was last seen alive in August 1998.
Dismembered parts of his body were found in two barrels in the bank
vault. Defleshing had occurred. Fractures to the throat structures
identified strangulation as the cause of death.
Vlassakis admits to being an eye witness to the
murder of Youde. He had told Bunting on many occasions that Youde
had raped him when he was younger. Haydon was not present during
these conversations. Vlassakis says Bunting was angry about Youde's
behaviour and had often said that he wanted to bash Youde and give
him a flogging. However, there was no plan to murder Youde nor any
talk of murdering him in advance of the occasion in question.
Vlassakis did not think that Bunting would murder Youde because
Youde was the brother of Vlassakis and Bunting was in a longstanding
relationship with their mother (Harvey).
According to Vlassakis, the events leading to the
murder of Youde occurred without warning. Vlassakis was asleep in
the lounge room at Burdekin Avenue. He was woken up and given a club
and a pair of handcuffs. Bunting, Wagner and Haydon were each armed
with a jack handle. Vlassakis says he was taken down to the bedroom
where Youde was asleep. The four men walked into the bedroom and
Bunting said "Now". Vlassakis describes the four men as "swinging
into Troy". Youde awoke and jumped onto the bed with his back to the
wall. Bunting and Wagner "just flew in".
Vlassakis says that Bunting demanded that he put
the handcuffs on Youde. He put one handcuff on and then walked out
of the bedroom into the lounge. It appears that Haydon also left the
bedroom. Vlassakis became aware that Bunting and Wagner were putting
Youde into the bath tub. Vlassakis and Haydon entered the bathroom.
At that time Vlassakis still believed that Youde was to be bashed.
After more physical and verbal abuse of Youde by
Bunting, Vlassakis left the bathroom. Haydon was already in the
lounge. Vlassakis says that he couldn't handle it and he thought
that Haydon was unable to handle it. He could hear the physical
abuse of Youde continuing.
Vlassakis says that he witnessed torture of Youde
conducted by Wagner. A tape recorder was produced and Youde was made
to make abusive statements directed at his mother and others.
Bunting would say the words and have Youde repeat the words for
taping purposes. A PIN number was obtained. Youde was made to refer
to those present by deferential titles such as "sir".
Bunting encouraged Vlassakis to take advantage of
the circumstances and make Youde apologise for what he had done to
Vlassakis. According to Vlassakis, he knelt in front of Youde and
spoke to him. Youde apologised.
At the direction of Bunting, Vlassakis obtained a
bag from the lounge room which contained items such as duct tape and
gloves. A sock or similar item was placed in Youde's mouth and tape
was applied to hold the gag in place. More physical violence was
applied to Youde.
Vlassakis says he felt very emotional because
initially he was thinking that Youde was to receive only a beating
and then he realised that Youde was about to be murdered. At a time
when Vlassakis and Haydon were not in the bathroom, Bunting said
they "had to see this". They moved to the bathroom. Vlassakis
entered the bathroom. It appears that Haydon was watching from
outside the bathroom.
According to Vlassakis, a rope was put around
Youde's neck and a jack handle was inserted into the rope as a
twisting mechanism. Vlassakis knew Youde was going to die and he
wanted it to happen quickly. He assisted in the twisting, but the
rope broke. Wagner retied the rope and completed the strangling.
As mentioned, Vlassakis says that during the
abuse and torture of Youde, Bunting knelt in front of Youde and
named people he had killed. Bunting mentioned names and then asked
Haydon if he had left any out. Haydon repeated a couple of names
immediately before the strangling commenced. Vlassakis says Haydon
just repeated the names Bunting had already nominated.
Specifically as to the involvement of Haydon,
Vlassakis says that Haydon assisted in the initial beating of Youde
in the bedroom, but did not provide any subsequent assistance. He is
unable to remember Haydon being present during the torture. At the
time that Vlassakis obtained the bag containing the tape, Haydon was
in the lounge. Haydon was present when the tape was applied. After
Bunting had summoned both Vlassakis and Haydon to the bathroom at
the time the rope was placed around Youde's neck, and during the
strangling, Haydon was looking through the doorway to the bathroom.
He did not assist in any manner.
According to Vlassakis, after Youde was killed
Bunting asked him to go to a shop and purchase surgical gloves and
garbage bags. Either Vlassakis or Haydon asked what sort of garbage
bags and Bunting responded "heavy ones, heavy-duty ones". Bunting
showed Vlassakis an almost empty box of surgical gloves of the type
that he wanted purchased. Vlassakis and Haydon drove in Haydon's
Landcruiser to Woolworths at Murray Bridge where they purchased the
box of gloves and heavy-duty plastic bags.
On their return to Burdekin Avenue, Bunting let
Vlassakis and Haydon into the premises. They went to the bathroom.
The body of Youde was on the floor. Bunting told Wagner to check if
Youde was dead. Wagner put his foot on the deceased's chest and
pushed a number of times. Bunting and Wagner laughed. The deceased
was still handcuffed.
Bunting and Wagner put rubbish bags over the body.
Rope was put around the deceased's legs. A barbell was used to
assist in carrying the body. All four men carried the body into the
shed. Bunting was laughing and saying that Youde was "happy now" and
that he had been "made good".
Vlassakis says that after the body was put in the
shed, Vlassakis left the premises to obtain methadone from a
pharmacy. He was absent from the premises for approximately ten
minutes. After he returned to the premises, a discussion occurred
about what had happened. Bunting and Wagner were having a "big laugh".
Haydon had "a bit of a laugh". Vlassakis was feeling shocked, but
did not wish to show his feelings. Bunting asked how Vlassakis felt
because he had just committed murder. There was talk of Youde going
too quickly and not experiencing enough pain. Eventually Bunting
said he was hungry and all four men travelled in Haydon's vehicle to
MacDonald's. Vlassakis was unable to eat.
According to Vlassakis, he and Bunting cleaned up
in the bedroom and bathroom. Bunting put clothes and other items in
a garbage bag together with Youde's bankcard. That bag was put into
Haydon's Landcruiser. Subsequently Haydon and Wagner left the
premises in the Landcruiser. Although Vlassakis and Bunting had
cleaned up in the bedroom and bathroom, Bunting had put some of
Youde's CD's in the fish tank and messed up the lounge room a bit to
make it look like a fight had occurred. When Harvey returned home,
Bunting told her that a fight had occurred between Vlassakis and
Youde and that Bunting had stepped in. He said the argument
continued between him and Youde and that Youde had left the premises.
Vlassakis says that within a day or so he and
Bunting drove to Adelaide in the Ford Marquis and purchased a barrel.
On their return to Burdekin Avenue, Bunting and Vlassakis put the
barrel in the shed and Bunting locked the door behind them. They put
Youde's body into the barrel, but the legs were sticking out of the
barrel. Bunting told Vlassakis he would have to do a "slice and
dice". Using a knife, Bunting cut around an ankle joint and detached
the deceased's foot. The foot was put into the barrel. After the lid
of the barrel was applied, the barrel was moved to where two other
barrels were situated in the shed. Vlassakis understood that one
barrel contained the bodies of Lane and Gardiner and the second
contained the body of Porter. The barrel containing the body of
Youde was shorter than the other two barrels.
According to Vlassakis, while in the shed Bunting
lifted the lid of the barrel containing the body of Porter. He
looked into the barrel and said that the body was "rotting very
nicely". He asked Vlassakis about the smell. Bunting also looked
into the barrel containing the bodies of Lane and Gardiner and again
asked about the smell. Vlassakis describes the smell as very
powerful and potent. He told Bunting it was pretty bad.
Subsequently, Vlassakis gave false stories to a
number of persons concerning the disappearance of Youde. The stories
were designed to create the impression that Youde was still alive.
Vlassakis says that Bunting gave him a card which
enabled access to Youde's bank account. He had the card for
approximately three to four months before Bunting wanted it back.
Vlassakis was told to use the card only at EFTPOS machines and not
at the bank. The record of withdrawals demonstrates regular use of
the card from September 1998 to March 1999. Vlassakis says he gave
money to Bunting if Bunting needed it.
In order to maintain the Centrelink benefits that
Youde had been receiving, it was necessary to lodge forms with
Centrelink. A form dated 2 October 1998 contains the handwriting of
Bunting and Wagner's fingerprint was located on that form. Five
forms contain the handwriting of Bunting. A form dated 13 November
1998 contains both the handwriting and fingerprint of Vlassakis.
Documentation belonging to or associated with
Youde was found at Bundarra Court together with a book which
contained practice signatures in the names of Youde and Porter.
Various financial documents relating to Youde were found in a green
garbage back appearing to contain rubbish. The rubbish bag was in
the ceiling at Bundarra Court. The fingerprints of Haydon and
Bunting were located on some of the documents.
Documentation related to Youde was also found in
the shed at Blackham Crescent. That documentation included Medicare
and Healthcare cards in the name of Youde.
Frederick Brooks - (Count 10)
Brooks was last seen alive on 17 September 1998.
At that time he was living at Blackham Crescent with Haydon,
Elizabeth Haydon (and her children) and his mother, Jodie Elliott (also
the sister of Elizabeth Haydon). The day on which Brooks was last
seen alive was the day that Bunting, Elizabeth Haydon and Elliott
travelled to Owen looking for a property to be rented by Elliott in
the name of Allen.
The body of Brooks was found in a barrel in the
vault. Thumb cuffs were loose in the barrel with the body. The
deceased's wrists were held behind his body by handcuffs. A gag was
in the deceased's mouth and ducting tape had been applied across the
mouth and over the head. The lower limbs were held flexed by knotted
electrical cord. There was a loss of soft tissue over the left knee.
Brooks was last seen alive at Blackham Crescent
in the company of Vlassakis, Bunting and Haydon. At that time,
Bunting was in a relationship with Elliott. According to Vlassakis,
on a number of occasions Bunting referred to Brooks as a paedophile
and a dirty. However, prior to the occasion on which Brooks was
killed, there was no talk of killing him. Vlassakis was not aware of
a plan to kill Brooks and the events of the murder came as a
surprise to him.
Vlassakis says that Haydon also complained about
Brooks. However, it appears that Haydon's complaints arose out of
the presence of Brooks and others as residents at the home of Haydon
and his wife.
Elliott says that, after the trip to Owen, during
the late afternoon at Blackham Crescent there was talk of going to a
party. She and Brooks shared a keycard to an account. She gave that
card to Brooks. Vlassakis was the first to leave. A few minutes
later Brooks left on foot. Subsequently, Bunting and Haydon left
together. Elliott did not see Brooks again.
The story is taken up by Vlassakis. He says he
was at home at 23 Burdekin Avenue, Murray Bridge when Bunting
arrived. Bunting told Vlassakis that he had "some goodies down the
road". Vlassakis took this to be a reference to stolen property.
Bunting asked him for assistance. They walked to 3 Burdekin Avenue.
As they were about to enter the premises, Bunting told Vlassakis
that he had Brooks. Bunting said he was putting handcuffs on Brooks
and giving the key to Brooks to get the handcuffs off. He told
Vlassakis to put the handcuffs on himself to make it look good.
Vlassakis says that he and Bunting walked into
the premises and into a bedroom. Brooks was in the room, putting the
handcuffs on and getting out of them. Bunting was behaving in a very
friendly manner and talking in an excited way about ripping off a
computer shop. Wagner was present. At the suggestion of Bunting,
Vlassakis put the handcuffs on and, with a key, took them off.
Eventually when handcuffs were put on Brooks, thumb cuffs were also
applied and Wagner grabbed Brooks around the neck with his arms.
Vlassakis gives a description of physical
violence and torture by Bunting and Wagner. It was a lengthy period
of torture by various means, including the use of an electrical
impulse machine called a "Variac". A PIN number for a telephone was
extracted from Brooks together with phrases abusing Elliott, Haydon
and Elizabeth Haydon which were recorded. Brooks was questioned
about being a "dirty". He was made to call the accused and Vlassakis
by deferential titles similar to those extracted from Youde. Music
from the album titled "Throwing Copper" was played. The same music
was played during the previous murder of Youde and the subsequent
murder of Johnson. Two tapes of that music were subsequently found
at Mofflin Road together with an empty CD cover.
According to Vlassakis, a gag was placed in
Brooks' mouth and tape was wrapped around his mouth and head.
Vlassakis describes the process of using the tape as the same
process that occurred in the murder of Youde. At this time the
handcuffs and thumbcuffs were still applied.
Vlassakis says that everything became a bit of a
blur. He is unable to recall precisely how Brooks was killed. He
says that Bunting told Brooks of the previous murder victims as he
had done shortly before murdering Youde. After Brooks was murdered,
Bunting wrapped the body in rubbish bags and the body was placed in
the boot of a white Torana. Brooks' clothes and items used during
the murder were put in a black plastic bag and placed in the boot.
Vlassakis recalls wearing gloves which were placed in the rubbish
bag. During the clean up, Bunting and Wagner compared the torture of
Brooks to that of Davies and commented how Brooks had handled the
pain like Davies.
Haydon was not present at Murray Bridge for any
of the events to which I have referred. There is no evidence that
Haydon was aware of an intention on the part of Bunting or Wagner to
kill Brooks. According to Vlassakis, within a day or so of the
murder Haydon attended at the premises. A trailer was attached to
Haydon's Landcruiser. The white Torana was loaded onto the trailer
and towed away by Haydon. Bunting accompanied Haydon.
Within about a week, Vlassakis saw the Torana in
a shed at Haydon's premises. Haydon was spray painting the car and
fixing it up. Vlassakis says that Bunting asked Haydon how Fred [Brooks]
was and whether he was happy or not. Haydon responded to the effect
that "he's going alright; he's alright." Bunting and Haydon went
into the pit. Vlassakis walked about half way down into the pit.
Vlassakis says he saw a body on the floor wrapped in the same manner
as the body of Brooks had been wrapped when placed in the boot of
the Torana. An odour emanated from the shed which Vlassakis
describes as the same smell that emanated from the bank vault.
Bunting asked about the smell and Vlassakis responded that it wasn't
Vlassakis says that subsequently he helped
Bunting place an answering message on the mobile telephone that
belonged to Brooks. They used the tape recording of Brooks' voice.
Vlassakis is unable to recall the details of the message. According
to Elliott, when she rang that number she received a foul message
telling her to leave Brooks alone and saying that he did not want to
talk to her. She describes the message as basically telling her to "fuck
As mentioned, Bunting and Haydon had left
Blackham Crescent together late in the afternoon of Thursday 17
September 1998. They returned together on Saturday 19 September
1998. Elliott was worried. Bunting told her that Brooks was "off his
face on speed" and that he had been seen at a service station in
that condition. It was said that Brooks had called Elliott bad names.
Haydon was present during the conversation. According to Elliott, on
subsequent occasions Bunting told her of seeing Brooks and Haydon
reiterated what Bunting had told her.
Vlassakis assisted in misleading Elliott. She
says that shortly after Brooks disappeared, Vlassakis asked for
Brooks' clothes. He told her that Brooks wanted his clothes together
with some of his toiletries.
The keycard that Elliott had given to Brooks on
the day that he disappeared was returned to her by Bunting. On an
occasion when Elliott opened her front door to let Bunting in, he
bent down and picked up the card and handed it to her. The back of
the card was scratched.
It is the Crown case that Vlassakis and all
accused were involved in the process of fraudulently obtaining the
continuation of the Centrelink payments to which Brooks was entitled.
The Crown says this was done for the benefit of Haydon. By this time
the barrels containing the bodies of the deceased Gardiner, Lane,
Porter and Youde had been moved from Burdekin Avenue to the shed at
Blackham Crescent as the tenancy at Burdekin Avenue was to end on 28
September 1998. Hence the body of Brooks was taken to Blackham
Crescent within a couple of days of the murder.
Brooks was in receipt of a Youth Training
Allowance at a dependent rate. Steps were taken to change to an
independent rate which required less regular provision of
information to Centrelink. On 23 September 1998 Vlassakis
impersonated Brooks for the purposes of obtaining a medical
certificate from Doctor Koo. He was accompanied by Bunting who gave
the name Gavin Allen, those being the Christian names of Porter.
Vlassakis set out to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia and paranoia.
On 29 September 1998 Vlassakis lodged the necessary forms and a
medical certificate with Centrelink. He was referred to a social
worker for an assessment and given an appointment card. That
appointment card was later found in the ceiling at Bundarra Court.
On two occasions Vlassakis impersonated Brooks at
appointments with a social worker. The Youth Training Allowance was
suspended. On 16 October 1998 Vlassakis again saw the social worker.
He was accompanied by Bunting who posed as Gavin Porter. Wagner was
also present for part of the interview.
The benefits were reinstated and transferred to
Porter's account. On 16 October 1998 a payment of $87.84 was made
into Porter's account as arrears to which Brooks was entitled. The
balance of the account was $106.64. That day, $100.00 was withdrawn
through use of an ATM at a BP petrol station at Munno Para.
Immediately before the withdrawal, a balance enquiry had been made.
Wagner was a regular user of that particular ATM. Subsequently,
police found an ATM receipt for that inquiry dated 16 October 1998
in the main bedroom at Blackham Crescent together with another
receipt for a withdrawal on that account dated 8 October 1998.
In order to maintain the benefit payable to
Brooks, it was necessary to lodge forms at Centrelink each fortnight.
In February 1999, the benefit was cancelled because forms had not
In April 1999, a second lot of impersonations
occurred. On 8 April 1999, Vlassakis telephoned Centrelink and
identified himself as Brooks. He enquired about the reinstatement of
the benefit. The call was made from the landline connected to
Bundarra Court. On 12 April 1999, Vlassakis attended at Centrelink
and explained the reasons for the failure to lodge the form. The
same day, posing as Brooks, he again saw Doctor Koo. Vlassakis says
Bunting coached him as to how to act like a paranoid schizophrenic.
Bunting accompanied Vlassakis posing as Gavin Allen. A medical
certificate was provided. Vlassakis filed the necessary
documentation with Centrelink. A benefit in the form of medical
incapacity was approved. According to Vlassakis, he and Bunting were
driven that day to Centrelink at Gawler and to the doctor's premises
by Haydon in Haydon's Holden Kingswood. It is the Crown case that
the impersonations by Vlassakis and Bunting were undertaken with the
intention that Haydon would receive the benefit by accessing the
funds directed to Brooks.
On 19 April 1999 Vlassakis again saw Doctor Koo
and a blood sample was taken. The DNA of that blood sample is
consistent with the DNA of Vlassakis. Prior to the attendance of
Vlassakis, Bunting telephoned from Bundarra Court to enquire about
the time of the appointment for "Brooks".
Subsequently, an account was opened in the name
of Brooks at the CPS Credit Union. Initially there was no keycard
and transactions had to occur over the counter. Vlassakis says that
on the last couple of trips to the Credit Union premises at Gawler,
Haydon drove him. On one of those occasions, after Vlassakis
withdrew the funds and left the premises, Haydon was waiting with
his hand out and Vlassakis gave the funds to Haydon in accordance
with a previous arrangement set in place by Bunting. According to
Vlassakis, the paperwork associated with the account was always left
with Bunting in Haydon's car or with Haydon. On the third occasion
he obtained funds from the account, Haydon gave him a folder of
papers and he returned that folder to Haydon when he gave Haydon the
The address given for the Credit Union account
was PO Box 378 Elizabeth. That was a post office box rented by
Wagner. After the accused were arrested the new keycard and other
CPS documentation was found in that post office box together with
six Centrelink letters addressed to Porter, three letters to Bunting
and twelve items for Wagner.
Documentation related to Brooks was found at
Bundarra Court. An unopened letter from Centrelink addressed to
Brooks was found in the mailbox at Mofflin Road. Centrelink
documentation associated with Brooks was found in the front of a
Ford station wagon which belonged to Porter at the time of his death
and which was located at Mofflin Road. A wallet belonging to Brooks
was found in the black bum bag in the Ford Marquis at Mofflin Road.
A number of Centrelink and Credit Union documents
relating to Brooks were found in Haydon's Holden station wagon at
Blackham Crescent. Also in the station wagon was a notepad
containing Brooks' name, date of birth and telephone PIN number
written in the handwriting of Bunting. Haydon's fingerprints were on
a Centrelink account payable form in the name of Brooks dated 9 for
April 1999. Personal details of Brooks were recorded in Bunting's
writing on a piece of paper found in the ceiling of Bundarra Court.
Gary O'Dwyer - (Count 11)
O'Dwyer was last seen alive on 28 October 1998.
He lived alone at 23 Frances Street, Murray Bridge. That street
intersects with Burdekin Avenue.
O'Dwyer's body was found in a barrel in the vault.
No cause of death was determined. Marks on the deceased's chest were
suggestive of electrical burns. Histological examination confirms
the presence of electrical burns. Patterns on the skin are
consistent with the application of clips attached to the Variac
electrical impulse machine.
The circumstances of the murder are provided by
Vlassakis. He knew the deceased. Bunting enlisted the aid of
Vlassakis to gain relevant information about the financial
circumstances of O'Dwyer and whether he had any family. Vlassakis
says the inquiry by Bunting was unexpected. In essence, Vlassakis
says that O'Dwyer was a financial target. In addition, according to
Vlassakis, Bunting said that O'Dwyer was a "fag" and a "dirty" and
needed to "go to the clinic". This was Bunting's way of saying that
O'Dwyer needed to be murdered. There is no suggestion in the
interviews of Vlassakis that Haydon was present at any discussion
On the day in question, Vlassakis was intending
to go to a party. However, at the insistence of Bunting, Vlassakis
arranged with O'Dwyer for "a couple of friends" to have a drink with
Vlassakis says he intended to go to the party,
but Bunting insisted that he accompany Bunting and Wagner to
O'Dwyer's home. They took a carton of beer. Bunting set out to get
O'Dwyer drunk. After approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, Wagner
grabbed O'Dwyer around the throat. O'Dwyer immediately went into
some sort of fit. Bunting told Wagner to ease off a bit. Handcuffs
were applied. Physical violence and torture followed. The Variac was
used. Personal information was extracted from O'Dwyer. Vlassakis
left the premises while O'Dwyer was being tortured. He went to the
party and, after a few hours, returned to his home at 23 Burdekin
Avenue, Murray Bridge.
The following morning Vlassakis went to 26
Burdekin Avenue where his mother and Bunting were living. Bunting
arrived while Vlassakis was talking to his mother. In the presence
of Vlassakis, Bunting told Harvey that O'Dwyer had run into trouble
with some aboriginals and that he, Bunting, had purchased all of
O'Dwyer's furniture. Bunting gave the same story to near neighbours.
Furniture was offered to Harvey and others.
According to Vlassakis, later that day he helped
Bunting load the deceased's furniture on to a trailer. Bunting told
Vlassakis that "Gary was good now". This was an expression used by
Bunting to indicate that he had murdered someone. He told Vlassakis
that O'Dwyer admitted to being a "rock spider". Bunting did not tell
Vlassakis how O'Dwyer had been killed. When Bunting departed with a
trailer load of furniture, he told Vlassakis that he was taking a
lounge suite to Haydon's home. Subsequently a lounge belonging to
O'Dwyer was found at Haydon's home at Blackham Crescent.
Vlassakis says that when he later visited the
premises of O'Dwyer, he noticed a strong smell which was worse than
the smell emanating from the barrels. He walked to the home of
Bunting and asked if the body of O'Dwyer had been left in the house.
Bunting answered in the negative and said that the body was in a
barrel. He suggested that the smell was caused by meat in the
freezer. Through inferences discussed later in these reasons, the
Crown submitted that a jury could conclude that the barrel
containing O'Dwyer was stored in the shed at Haydon's premises. At a
much later date, Bunting told Vlassakis that the barrel had been
stored at Haydon's place.
According to Vlassakis, Bunting arranged for the
issue of a keycard to enable access to O'Dwyer's bank account into
which Centrelink payments for O'Dwyer were made. A considerable
quantity of documentation relating to O'Dwyer was found in the
ceiling at Bundarra Court. Much of it was in bags together with
documentation associated with other victims. Elizabeth Harvey was
found to be in possession of a fridge/freezer belonging to O'Dwyer.
A television receiver belonging to O'Dwyer was found in the main
bedroom at Mofflin Road and documentation related to O'Dwyer was
found in a motor vehicle at Mofflin Road. Subsequently, the father
of the deceased Johnson found a document at Bundarra Court on which
Bunting had written personal details relating to O'Dwyer.
After O'Dwyer was murdered, his account was
accessed on numerous occasions. Between October 1998 and February
1999, almost all of the access occurred at Murray Bridge. Bunting
was then living at Murray Bridge. The tenancy at Bundarra Court
commenced on 13 February 1999. After Bunting moved from Murray
Bridge to Bundarra Court, access was taken on a number of occasions
in the Smithfield, Salisbury and Hillbank areas. The card which
enabled access was found by Vlassakis under a carpet in the bedroom
at Bundarra Court.
Elizabeth Haydon - (Count 12)
Haydon and his wife Elizabeth were living at
Blackham Crescent. Elizabeth Haydon was last seen alive at that
address in the period 20-22 November 1998. Her body was found in a
barrel in the bank. A sock was in the deceased's mouth and tape had
been placed around her mouth and head. A rope was loose around her
neck with a slip knot on the left side. Unusual softening of the
skull and teeth had occurred.
Vlassakis was not present at the relevant time.
However, he says that after Haydon moved to Blackham Crescent (June
1998), in the presence of Vlassakis and Wagner, Bunting regularly
spoke of the need for Elizabeth Haydon to die and to "go to the
clinic". There is no suggestion that these types of statements were
made in the presence of Haydon.
As mentioned, Elliott was living in a shed at 4
Blackham Crescent. Elizabeth Haydon was Elliott's sister. Two
children of Elizabeth Haydon also lived at that address. On Saturday
21 November 1998, the children were staying with the brother and
sister in law of Elizabeth Haydon, Mr Garion and Mrs Rae Sinclair.
During the evening of 21 November 1998, Haydon
and Elliott left the premises. Bunting, Wagner and Elizabeth Haydon
remained in the premises. It is the Crown case that Haydon and
Elliott left the house as part of a pre-arranged plan between the
accused to remove Elliott from the premises and that Elizabeth
Haydon was murdered by Bunting and Wagner during their absence.
Elliott says that Elizabeth Haydon asked her to
take Haydon away from the house for about two hours because Haydon's
birthday present was due to arrive. At the suggestion of Elliott,
Elizabeth Haydon asked Bunting to identify an appropriate place
which would take Haydon out of the premises for about two hours. He
suggested that Elliott take Haydon to Reynella. Elliott asked Haydon
if he would take her to McDonald's at Reynella where she wanted to
look at a dog. Bunting gave Haydon twenty dollars for fuel. Haydon
agreed and he and Elliott drove to Reynella where they waited at
McDonald's. When no-one arrived, Elliott suggested that they return
home and commented that when they got home it would be too late for
eating. Haydon suggested that they purchase something on the way
home and they pulled into a service station for that purpose. Haydon
said that he would ring home and let the others know that they were
not far away.
According to Elliott, when Haydon returned to the
car he said that "all hell" had broken loose at home. Elliott said
that when she travelled to Reynella with Haydon, he behaved in his
normal quiet manner. He did not seem edgy. However, after the
telephone call on the way home, Haydon was quite disturbed and
On arrival at Blackham Crescent, Bunting told
Haydon and Elliott that Elizabeth Haydon had made sexual advances to
him and he had turned her down. Elliott offered to talk to Elizabeth
Haydon, but Bunting told her to leave Elizabeth Haydon alone.
Bunting said he was going to Hungry Jacks to purchase something to
eat and asked if Elliott wanted to accompany him. She left the house
leaving Haydon and Wagner in the premises. She had not seen
Elizabeth Haydon and presumed that she was in the bedroom sulking.
In response to the Crown case that Elizabeth
Haydon was murdered while Elliott and Haydon were absent from the
premises, counsel for Haydon drew attention to initial statements by
Elliott that when she and Bunting left to go to Hungry Jacks, she
saw Elizabeth Haydon at the curtain of Elizabeth Haydon's bedroom.
However, during evidence at the preliminary examination, Elliott
said that she only saw fingers on the curtain and someone at the
window. She could not say who was at the window. It was very dark.
As they left, Bunting spoke foul language at the window. Elliott
also said that she did not see Elizabeth Haydon in the bedroom and
there was no indication by noise or otherwise of the presence of
anyone in that bedroom.
Elliott says that when Bunting and Elliott
returned from their trip to Hungry Jacks, Haydon told them that
Elizabeth Haydon had grabbed a bag or something and had gone off
with her boyfriend. There was no mention of the name of the
boyfriend. The suggested behaviour by Elizabeth Haydon did not seem
out of the ordinary to Elliott because there were times that
Elizabeth Haydon was prone to keeping a boyfriend secret and
disappearing with the boyfriend.
The following day, Sunday 22 November 1998,
Elliott and Bunting drove to the beach. Elliott says that on their
return Haydon told her that Elizabeth Haydon had arrived home at
about 5.00 am "blind rotten" drunk. Elliott did not check the
bedroom. She left the house and on her return Haydon, who she
understood had also been absent from the house, said that Elizabeth
Haydon must have left while they were absent.
Later that Sunday, Haydon went to the home of Mr
and Mrs Sinclair to collect the sons of Elizabeth Haydon. He told
them that he had been involved in an argument with Elizabeth Haydon
as a result of her accusing him as having slept with Elliott. He
said that Elizabeth Haydon had come home drunk at 2.00 am and that
she was currently in bed asleep. On their return home late that
Sunday afternoon the children did not see Elizabeth Haydon.
On Monday 23 November 1998 the children were
supposed to have walked to school. They walked to the Sinclair's.
They were upset because they had not seen their mother. William
Sinclair says that he and his brother were told by Haydon that their
mother was in the bedroom, but they were not to disturb her.
Christopher Sinclair says that Haydon told them that their mother
would not be home until Monday.
During the afternoon of 23 November 1998 Haydon
again attended at the home of the Sinclair's. He said that Elizabeth
Haydon had come home drunk at about 4.30 am on Sunday morning and
had slept it off. She had then packed her bags and telephoned her
boyfriend. The boyfriend turned up with his friends and she left.
Haydon also said that Elizabeth Haydon had cleared out the bank
accounts of Haydon and his father.
On Tuesday, 24 November 1998 Haydon gave further
information to Mr and Mrs Sinclair. He said he had been visiting his
father on Sunday morning and when he returned home he found that
Elizabeth Haydon had left. He said Elizabeth Haydon had seen Elliott
coming out of Haydon's bedroom and had misunderstood the
On Wednesday, 25 November 1998, Mr Sinclair
reported Elizabeth Haydon missing. A police investigation commenced.
On 26 November 1998 Haydon provided to the police a written account
of the circumstances of his wife's disappearance. He referred to the
"day of our marriage break-up". Haydon said that on his return home
from the trip to Reynella, Bunting told him that Elizabeth Haydon
had made a pass at Bunting and had become upset when he declined her
advance. Haydon told the police that he went into the bedroom to
speak with Elizabeth Haydon and she had accused him of sleeping with
Elliott. He said that while Bunting and Elliott were absent from the
premises, Elizabeth Haydon had come out of the bedroom and had
abused him in the presence of Wagner. She said she was leaving and
was intending to ring her boyfriend to pick her up. Haydon said that
he went to bed at about 2.00 am. Elizabeth Haydon returned home at
approximately 4.00 am. She was drunk. She got into bed and passed
out. At about 11.30 am Elizabeth Haydon got up. Haydon said he asked
her where she had been and who she had been with, but she would only
tell him that she was with someone he did not know. He asked her why
she had done that and she again accused him of sleeping with Elliott.
She told Haydon that he should visit his father at the nursing home
and she would wait until he returned. However, when he returned at
about 4.00 pm she was not at the premises. He said he had not seen
her since that Sunday.
Bunting and Wagner were interviewed by the police
on 30 November 1998. Bunting said that Elizabeth Haydon told him she
had bought a new computer for Haydon and she wanted to surprise him.
She said she asked Elliott if she could get Haydon out of the house.
While Haydon and Elliott were absent, Elizabeth Haydon made a sexual
advance to him which he rejected. Bunting said that Elizabeth Haydon
was upset by the rejection and sulked in her bedroom.
According to Bunting's statement, when he and
Elliott left the premises to go to the shops, Elizabeth Haydon
stared at them from the window. He said he was later told by Haydon
that Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon had argued and she had left the
Bunting also told the police that Elizabeth
Haydon's children should not be at the home of Garion Sinclair as
Elizabeth Haydon's brother, Tony, had told Bunting that Garion
Sinclair was a "child molester". The Crown sought to link that
statement with evidence suggesting that the voice of Elizabeth
Haydon had been recorded accusing Garion Sinclair of being a child
Wagner told the police that Elizabeth Haydon had
made an advance towards Bunting. He said that the others were at the
house when he had left the premises.
It is the Crown case that Bunting and Haydon also
gave a false story to Mrs Angela Freeman. As appears later in these
reasons, premises occupied by the Freemans was used to store barrels
containing bodies. According to Mrs Freeman, after the disappearance
of Elizabeth Haydon she was involved in a conversation with Bunting
and Haydon when they were discussing the problems being experienced
with police. It was said that the police were trying to involve
Haydon in Elizabeth Haydon's disappearance and that they felt that
if anything had happened to Elizabeth Haydon it would be her brother
who was involved. Mrs Freeman suggested to Haydon that he seek legal
help. It was mentioned that Elizabeth Haydon had been seen in
Melbourne. In her evidence at the preliminary examination, Mrs
Freeman explained that when the group was together talking, Bunting
did the bulk of the talking while Haydon sat quietly, but everybody
had something to say in the conversation.
Ms Sharon Ball was a friend of Elizabeth Haydon.
She says that on Thursday 26 November 1998 she found out that
Elizabeth Haydon was missing. On Monday 30 November 1998 she
attempted to ring the number of Elizabeth Haydon's mobile telephone,
but on about four occasions she only succeeded in reaching a message
bank. However, Elizabeth Haydon's voice was not the voice of the
message bank. On about the fifth try, Ball thought she was talking
to Elizabeth Haydon. She asked Elizabeth Haydon to talk to her. She
received a reply to the effect of "leave me alone, I'm alright; fuck
off." Elizabeth Haydon had never spoken to Ball in that manner
A few minutes later, Ball again telephoned
Elizabeth Haydon's mobile number. She heard a voice that sounded
like a recording on a tape. It said "you're a slut; you're nothing
but a dirty slut". There was the voice of a male and it sounded
A tape of Elizabeth Haydon's voice was found by
police in the ceiling at Bundarra Court. A number of statements are
heard on the tape abusing Elizabeth Haydon's mother, Elliott and
Haydon. There is reference to finding someone else and leaving her
alone. The statements also include an allegation that Garion
Sinclair is a child molester. The Crown says that the tone of
Elizabeth Haydon's voice on the tape clearly demonstrates that she
was under stress. Mr Vlassakis says that recordings of a similar
nature were made during the murders of Youde, Brooks and Johnson.
In respect of the phrases that Elizabeth Haydon
was made to repeat, counsel for Haydon pointed out that the phrases
included abuse of Haydon. She suggested that as the phrases were
intended to be heard by the named recipient, the existence of abuse
of Haydon suggested that Haydon was not involved in the murder of
Elizabeth Haydon. However, counsel acknowledged that recordings of
statements by deceased were played to answering machines or services
of intended recipients. It could be said, therefore, that in order
to give credibility to the deception that Elizabeth Haydon had
voluntarily left and wanted no more to do with those who were close
to her, it was necessary to include phrases that abused Haydon.
Vlassakis says he was first told of the murder of
Elizabeth Haydon when Bunting came to Murray Bridge with a barrel in
the back of the Ford Marquis. The barrel was placed into a Sigma
parked at the home of Vlassakis. Bunting said that he and Wagner had
killed Elizabeth Haydon, but the conversation was mainly about the
police being "onto him". Bunting told Vlassakis that there were
barrels in Haydon's four-wheel drive vehicle and on a trailer. There
was also the barrel that had to come to Vlassakis.
According to Vlassakis, it was some time before
Bunting again spoke about Elizabeth Haydon. He told Vlassakis that
Haydon was supposed to take the children to school, but had dropped
them off and saw them walking down the road but not into the school.
Bunting told Vlassakis that he and Wagner grabbed Elizabeth Haydon
and put her in the bathtub. Vlassakis says he does not know if the
murder actually happened at that time or not. Subsequently Bunting
showed Vlassakis a barrel in the bank vault which he said contained
the body of Elizabeth Haydon. Haydon was not present during the
conversations between Vlassakis and Bunting about the death of
As to a motive, Vlassakis says that he overheard
Haydon telling Bunting that he, Haydon, had told Elizabeth Haydon
about the murder of Trezise. The details are set out earlier in
these reasons. In addition, as mentioned Vlassakis says that Bunting
often said that he hated Elizabeth Haydon.
According to Vlassakis, Haydon and Elizabeth
Haydon still had compassion for each other. In the presence of
Vlassakis, Haydon spoke to Harvey in terms of "how could she run
away" and said that he missed Elizabeth Haydon. However, Vlassakis
says Haydon was present in the vault when the lid of the barrel
containing Elizabeth Haydon's body was removed. Bunting and Wagner
were making jokes about Elizabeth Haydon and laughing. Haydon had a
laugh under his breath. Vlassakis says they left the vault soon
after that incident and Haydon told him that he couldn't stomach it.
On 26 November 1998 Haydon and Elliott each gave
a statement to the police. Elliott says that later on 26 November
1998 the three accused were at 4 Blackham Crescent. They seemed edgy
for some reason that she was unable to work out. She was told that
they had stuff which had to be moved. Elliott was instructed to stay
in the family room and keep an eye out in case the police came back.
Haydon's Landcruiser was reversed towards the shed. Although she
could not see what was happening, Elliott also heard movement into
the ceiling of the house and the removal of property from the
ceiling. Items were wrapped in old blankets and put into the
Landcruiser. A trailer was obtained. The Landcruiser was put onto
the trailer and Wagner's vehicle was used to tow the trailer away
from the premises. This occurred between about midnight and 3.00 am.
It is the Crown case that property of victims or
associated with victims was removed from the ceiling at Blackham
Crescent because the police had become involved in investigating the
disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon. Property belonging to or
associated with victims was subsequently found in the ceiling of
premises occupied by Bunting at Bundarra Court. Elizabeth Haydon's
visacard was found by Mills on top of a cupboard at Mofflin Road.
It is also the Crown case that barrels containing
bodies had been stored in the shed at Blackham Crescent. The
evidence by which the Crown sought to prove that fact is discussed
later. It is the Crown case that the barrels were loaded into the
Landcruiser during the evening while Elliott was keeping a look-out
for the police. The Landcruiser was then towed on a trailer to the
property of Mr and Mrs Freeman at Hoyleton.
The Crown says that a combination of
circumstances leads to the inevitable inference that Elizabeth
Haydon was killed while Elliott and Haydon were absent from Blackham
Crescent. The proposed evidence is capable of supporting such a
If a finding is made that Elizabeth Haydon was
killed before Elliott and Haydon returned to Blackham Crescent, it
would follow that Haydon knowingly made false statements about
Elizabeth Haydon's behaviour and movements. The first of those
statements was to Elliott when she and Bunting returned from their
visit to Hungry Jacks. Against the background of Haydon's knowledge
that Bunting and Wagner had murdered a number of people, and in view
of the storage of barrels containing bodies in Haydon's shed of
which Haydon was aware, the fact that Haydon immediately began
telling false stories about Elizabeth Haydon is capable of
supporting an inference that when Haydon left the premises with
Elliott he was aware that his wife would be murdered. The
alternative view is that, while Elliott and Bunting were at Hungry
Jacks, Haydon became aware that Elizabeth Haydon had been killed and
in order to support Bunting and Wagner he immediately began telling
false stories about Elizabeth Haydon's movements.
The Crown pointed out that if Haydon was not
party to the murder of his wife, Bunting and Wagner took an
extraordinary risk in murdering Elizabeth Haydon while Elliott and
Haydon were temporarily absent. In addition, the Crown referred to
the evidence of Mills that after Elizabeth Haydon's death, the
relationship between Bunting and Haydon seemed to be closer. That
view of the relationship is supported by evidence from a neighbour
of Bunting's at Murray Bridge. Mr Robert Gottwald says that Haydon
stayed with Bunting at Murray Bridge for almost all of January 1999.
The Crown also relies upon Haydon's subsequent behaviour in the
vault when the lid of the barrel containing the body of Elizabeth
Haydon was removed.
In answer to the submission that it was Elizabeth
Haydon's idea that Elliott take Haydon away from the premises, the
Crown says the birthday present did not exist. The idea of having
Haydon leave the premises was an idea put into the mind of Elizabeth
Haydon by Bunting as part of the plan to get Elliott out of the
premises while Elizabeth Haydon was murdered.
In respect of the current application, I am
required to make a provisional assessment of the evidence. That
assessment leads me to the view that the totality of the evidence is
capable of supporting an inference beyond reasonable doubt that at
the time Haydon and Elliott left the premises leaving Elizabeth
Haydon, Bunting and Wagner in the premises, Haydon was aware that
Bunting and Wagner were intending to kill Elizabeth Haydon.
David Johnson - (Count 13)
Johnson was murdered on 9 May 1999. His body was
found in a barrel in the vault. The hands had been almost completely
degloved and there had been an attempted disarticulation at the
Johnson was the stepbrother of Vlassakis. He was
not a homosexual. However, Bunting referred to Johnson as a faggot
and said he needed to die. According to Vlassakis, Bunting disliked
Johnson from the day they met.
Vlassakis says that on an occasion when he
borrowed Bunting's car, Bunting asked if he could go and get David
for him. From the way Bunting asked, Vlassakis says he "knew what he
wanted then straight away". Initially Vlassakis refused, but Bunting
kept "hassling" him. Vlassakis attended at Johnson's premises and
said that he had a computer for sale at the place of a friend just
past Clare. They discussed exchanging the computer for an ounce of
marijuana. There were subsequent discussions between Vlassakis and
Johnson on that topic.
Vlassakis was living with Bunting at Bundarra
Court. He says that after a visit to Johnson to discuss the computer,
he returned home and saw Bunting in the ceiling. Haydon was standing
on the floor holding a ladder together with Wagner. Bunting came
down from the ceiling holding a pair of handcuffs. The three men
went to the laundry where Bunting asked Vlassakis how he got on with
"putz head". This was a reference to Johnson. Bunting was talking
about how it was going to be fun. This was the first time that
Bunting mentioned to Vlassakis that he wanted to kill Johnson.
According to Vlassakis, this was the type of conversation that did
not occur around people other than Vlassakis, Bunting, Wagner and
Haydon. Hence the conversation occurred in the laundry. Vlassakis
says that this is the only conversation about Johnson at which he
can specifically recall Haydon being present. He says that there
were a few conversations involving Haydon, Wagner and Bunting at
Haydon's place within a couple of days of the murder of Johnson, but
he is unable to recall what was said. He cannot be 100 per cent sure
that the topic of the conversations was to do with Johnson.
Vlassakis says he lured Johnson to Snowtown on 9
May 1999. Earlier that day he was present at a conversation
involving Bunting, Wagner and Ms Michelle Fitzgerald. Vlassakis says
that Fitzgerald spoke about Johnson needing to die. Fitzgerald is
not a Crown witness.
Vlassakis and Johnson drove in different vehicles
to Harvey's home where Vlassakis left his car. While Vlassakis was
driving to his mother's home, Wagner telephoned him. This call was
recorded on a telephone intercept. It occurred at about 6.40 pm.
Wagner enquired as to whether "putz head" was with Vlassakis.
Vlassakis said that Johnson was behind him [in another vehicle] and
there was talk of where they would leave the car on arrival at
At 6.56 pm Bunting telephoned Vlassakis and told
him that the side door of the bank was open. Bunting said that the "machine"
was set up. At 8.56 pm Wagner telephoned Mr Freeman who lived a
short distance from the bank at Snowtown. He left a message
requesting that they be permitted to use the shower at the Freemans
later that night.
Vlassakis says that almost immediately after he
and Johnson entered the bank premises at Snowtown, Wagner grabbed
Johnson around the throat and Bunting applied handcuffs. Bunting
told Johnson he only wanted to talk to Johnson and that Johnson
would be gone in half an hour after a few questions. Johnson was
sitting on a television set. Bunting had Johnson repeat numbers and
phrases. Johnson's repetitions were recorded on a computer (a
notebook later found between the vault door and plastic lining the
doorway contained phrases Johnson was made to repeat and Johnson's
PIN number). After some time Johnson's socks were removed and a sock
was put in his mouth. His mouth was covered with tape. Physical
violence and torture followed. A PIN number was extracted from
Johnson. Wagner and Vlassakis drove to Port Wakefield and attempted
to use Johnson's card. The attempt was unsuccessful. Bunting rang
Vlassakis who told him that the attempt had been unsuccessful.
According to Vlassakis, when he and Wagner
returned to the bank premises, Johnson was dead. The deceased's belt
was around his neck. Bunting was holding his ribs and thumb. He told
Vlassakis and Wagner that the deceased "had wimped out". He said
Johnson got the handcuffs to the front of his body and a fight
occurred between them. Bunting said that Johnson grabbed the Stanley
blade, but Bunting put the belt around Johnson's neck and strangled
Vlassakis says that Bunting and Wagner told
Vlassakis he would have to do a "slice and dice". Bunting told him
to put on a protective covering which was referred to as a "playsuit".
Vlassakis complied. Wagner and Vlassakis carried the body into the
vault. Car keys, handcuffs and a watch were removed from the body.
The gag was removed (DNA consistent with Johnson's DNA was
subsequently found on tape located in the vault and on hair attached
to the tape). Both Vlassakis and Wagner wore gloves. Bunting told
Vlassakis and Wagner that Mr Freeman was at the premises. He shut
the bank vault door. Vlassakis felt ill. Eventually he left the
Mr Freeman said that he arrived home that evening
at about 10.30 pm. There was a note on his door asking him to ring
Wagner's mobile phone number. He rang the number written on the
piece of paper and spoke to Bunting. He was told that Bunting was in
Snowtown. Out of curiosity Freeman went to the bank. He had a key to
the side door, but when he opened the door a restraining chain was
in place. Bunting let him in.
Bunting invited Freeman to have a look at the
computer which was on the floor. Freeman says that about one or two
minutes after he sat down at the computer, Vlassakis walked out of
the vault. Black plastic covered the open doorway and Freeman could
see light through a slit in the plastic. He says that Vlassakis was
wearing disposable white overalls of a type he had not seen before.
In the words of Freeman, Vlassakis "stunk of rotting meat". Prior to
Freeman leaving, Vlassakis took a step towards him and put out his
arms saying "give me a hug".
Freeman also saw Wagner walk out of the vault.
Wagner was wearing his yellow Country Fire Service overalls and
gloves. As Freeman was leaving, Wagner also said "give us a hug".
According to Freeman, about an hour or an hour
and a half later the three men arrived at his house. They all "stunk"
and all took turns in taking a shower.
Freeman saw that Vlassakis had a Nissan EXA motor
vehicle. He says that Bunting had offered to sell that vehicle to
him a few weeks previously. Bunting said that a friend had lost his
job and could not afford to keep up the payments. He had asked two
thousand dollars for the car. Vlassakis was driving the Nissan and
the other two men were in Wagner's brown Ford Falcon station wagon.
They left at about 1am. That was the last occasion that Freeman saw
Johnson's Nissan was driven from Snowtown to
Haydon's premises at Blackham Crescent. Elliott and Haydon were at
the premises. Bunting offered the vehicle to Elliott as a Mother's
Day present. She took it for a test drive. She discussed the car
with Bunting, Wagner and Haydon. Elliott understood that the owner
wanted one thousand five hundred dollars for the car.
Vlassakis says that after they arrived at
Blackham Crescent, Bunting told Haydon what had happened. Vlassakis
recalls Bunting telling Haydon about the fight between Johnson and
Bunting and what occurred after the fight. According to Vlassakis,
Haydon knew that the Nissan belonged to Johnson and, as a
consequence of the previous conversation when Bunting had been in
the ceiling, Haydon was aware that the vehicle would be arriving.
As mentioned, shortly before Johnson was murdered
Bunting had Johnson repeat numbers and phrases for recording on the
computer. This was the first occasion on which a computer was used
for recording purposes. Audio tapes had been used in connection with
Elizabeth Haydon, Brooks and Youde. By means of a listening device
in place at Blackham Crescent on 15 March 1999, there is audio
evidence of Bunting, Elliott and Haydon using the sound program that
enables the recording and subsequent manipulation of material
recorded on the computer. Elliott identifies her voice and those of
Bunting and Haydon. The Crown says that the program was being tested
and that the testing is significant in view of the fact that audio
tapes had been used in recording the voices of three persons
previously murdered, including Youde, at whose recording and murder
Haydon had been present. However, counsel for Haydon pointed out
that Elliott and Haydon were being harassed by the police concerning
the disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon and the thrust of the "testing"
was to demonstrate what the police could do by way of manipulating
interviews. It was put that in substance Bunting was endeavouring to
persuade Elliott that she should not trust the police and should not
talk to them. The content of the transcript tends to support the
view advanced by counsel for Haydon.
The recording of Johnson's voice immediately
before his murder was put into practice two days later on 11 May
1999. Through telephone intercepts, calls were recorded from
Bunting's home at Bundarra Court to a friend of Johnson's, Ms Toni
Freeman. A recording of Johnson's voice was played over the
telephone to Ms Freeman. The recording included abusive phrases that
had been spoken by Johnson at the insistence of Bunting on the night
of Johnson's murder. Ms Freeman did not recognise Johnson's voice on
the first occasion. The intercept then recorded two calls shortly
after the first call, but Ms Freeman's number was engaged. In one of
those calls Bunting is heard to say that the line was engaged. Call
Number 4 was answered by Ms Freeman and she heard the same male
voice. This time she recognised the voice as Johnson's. She was sure
that the voice was a recording. She yelled into the phone, but there
was silence. Ms Freeman then rang Vlassakis at Bundarra Court. She
asked if Vlassakis knew where Johnson was and Vlassakis responded
that he had no idea. Ms Freeman told Vlassakis that Johnson had
telephoned and played a recording.
On 13 May 1999, Bunting made a number of calls to
Telstra enquiring about how to block a number in order to prevent a
receiver of a call finding out the number of the caller. Bunting
also telephoned Vlassakis and played the recording of Johnson's
voice to Vlassakis over the telephone in order to test the quality.
Ms Linda Kovarskis was Johnson's girlfriend. She
last spoke to him on 9 May 1999 and was told by Johnson that he was
obtaining a computer from Bunting that day. Johnson told Kovarskis
that the contact had been provided by Vlassakis. On Wednesday 12 May
1999, Kovarskis made enquiries as to the whereabouts of Johnson. At
about 10.30 am on 13 May 1999, Kovarskis and her mother attended at
Johnson's home. Their knock on the front door was answered by
Vlassakis. He told Kovarskis that Johnson had made a thirteen year
old girl pregnant and was seeing someone else. Kovarskis observed
that Johnson's clothing and belongings were still in his room.
Kovarskis told Vlassakis to tell Johnson to call
her. She said that if she did not get a call she would contact the
police and report Johnson as missing. That same morning, a telephone
intercept recorded a conversation between Vlassakis and Bunting in
which they discussed the intention of Kovarskis to go to the police
if Johnson did not call her that night. It is the Crown case that a
plan was put in place to satisfy Kovarskis. Bunting purchased a
telephone pack. He gave Johnson's birth certificate to Vlassakis to
enable Vlassakis to register a SIM card in Johnson's former name,
David Cheeseman. The number was given to Kovarskis. Bunting arranged
for Elliott to impersonate Johnson's girlfriend. Bunting told
Elliott that Johnson had left the State because he made a 13 year
old girl pregnant. Elliott answered when Kovarskis telephoned and
pretended to call out to Johnson. She told Kovarskis that Johnson
must have been on the toilet and that she had to go. Elliott hung
up. The SIM card was later found in Bunting's mobile telephone in a
vehicle at Bundarra Court.
On 19 May 1999, Vlassakis and Wagner attended at
the home of Johnson and removed a quantity of property. The same
exercise was repeated on 20 May 1999. They told Mr Marcus Johnson,
the deceased's father, that they were taking the property to his
son. Some of the property was given to a friend of Johnson without
identifying Johnson as the source. Other property was placed in a
Goodwill bin and was subsequently retrieved by the police.
Property belonging to or related to Johnson was
subsequently found at Bundarra Court and Mofflin Road. Johnson's
Nissan EXA was found by the police at Blackham Crescent.
Only one access was taken to Johnson's bank
account after his death. That access occurred on 19 May 1999 at
Hillbank. Vlassakis says he made the withdrawal in the presence of
The Crown submitted that in addition to
considering the evidence directly bearing upon each individual count,
it is important to gain an overall perspective of the evidence in
order to appreciate the underlining unity and connection between the
various counts and to appreciate the extent of the involvement of
each accused. The Crown contended that once the full impact of the
overall perspective is appreciated, it is apparent that each count
is admissible upon the other and that relatively little evidence is
admissible against one accused and not another. If separate trials
were ordered, the vast majority of the evidence would still have to
be led on each trial.
Dynamics of Group
First, the Crown referred to the dynamics of the
group. There is a considerable spread of age. Haydon was born on 4
December 1958, Bunting on 4 September 1966, Wagner on 28 November
1971 and Vlassakis on 24 December 1979. At the time that Trezise was
killed, Vlassakis was aged about thirteen years and had not met
Bunting. Vlassakis met Bunting when he was about fourteen. He lived
with Bunting before Bunting moved in with Vlassakis' mother,
Elizabeth Harvey. Vlassakis came to regard Bunting as his father.
According to Vlassakis, Bunting and Haydon were
close friends and were together all the time when Vlassakis became
friendly with Bunting. Wagner became more involved after Bunting
moved into Waterloo Corner Road and after Wagner's relationship with
Lane ended. According to Tripp, Bunting's partner when he lived at
Waterloo Corner Road, Haydon and Wagner were regular visitors. As
mentioned, there is evidence supporting the view that Bunting and
Haydon did not associate with each other from early 1996 until mid-1998.
It is the Crown case that Bunting was the common
thread. Vlassakis says that Bunting regularly spoke of and bragged
about the murders while in the group of four. Wagner also joined in.
Haydon listened, but spoke very little. According to Vlassakis,
unless Bunting was present he, Wagner and Haydon did not talk about
Mills became involved with Wagner in late 1996.
She and Wagner lived in Mofflin Road from 1997. She says that
Bunting, Wagner and Haydon did not speak in front of her. They would
go outside. A similar observation is made by Elliott. She described
it as like a boys club. They would talk outside or, if inside, they
would talk at a low level.
Bunting moved to Murray Bridge in 1991. He lived
at 10 Lohman Street from November 1991 to May 1997. He was at 3
Burdekin Avenue from May 1997 until September 1998. It is the Crown
case that a story was created to enable Bunting to regularly visit
Adelaide. He claimed he was driving trucks. He went as far as hiring
a truck in order to convince Harvey that he was driving trucks.
Haydon and Wagner were able to leave their homes without question
apparently to travel with Bunting in the truck. Wagner also
pretended that he had obtained a job driving trucks. Counsel for
Haydon pointed out that the Crown relies upon the evidence of
Elliott that Haydon would go with Bunting "sometimes" when Bunting
was driving trucks. Elliott's evidence only relates to the period
after June 1998.
Counsel for Haydon referred to evidence that she
argued demonstrated that Haydon was on the outer and was not
regarded as part of the group surrounding Bunting. Statements were
made by Bunting suggesting that only those who had been sexually
abused were considered to be part of the group. In addition, counsel
referred to evidence which she said justified the conclusion that
Bunting was pursuing his own agenda and selected and planned the
killings without reference to Haydon.
As mentioned earlier in these reasons, in respect
of some victims the Crown says that at least part of the motivation
for the murders was a belief by the accused that the victims posed a
risk to the accused because they knew too much. In addition, the
Crown contended that the evidence demonstrates a desire to
financially gain from the death of a number of victims. Another
aspect of motive was a hatred of paedophiles that was shared by the
It is the Crown case that there were numerous
conversations involving the accused in varying combinations and
Vlassakis when the hatred of paedophiles and what should be done to
such persons was discussed. Vlassakis says that these types of
conversations occurred in respect of a number of victims. He says
that the topic of paedophiles inevitably arose during discussions
with Bunting. In the early stages, when Bunting was talking about
paedophiles and bashing them, Haydon would "have a few inputs here
and there". Over time the conversations involved escalating violence
to the point of killing.
Other witnesses also speak of conversations about
paedophiles. Marcus Johnson met Elizabeth Harvey in 1988 and they
married in 1991. After about five years they separated permanently.
Marcus Johnson became aware of allegations that a
person by the name of Payne had sexually interfered with Harvey's
children, namely Vlassakis and his brothers. At about that time
Marcus Johnson first met Bunting, Wagner, Haydon and the deceased
Lane. He was present at a conversation when those men and Harvey
were talking about Payne and discussed killing Payne themselves. It
was a general conversation about taking matters into their own hands
if Payne was not arrested by the police. Bunting was the most
violent in the nature of the language he used. Payne was arrested on
3 March 1994.
Marcus Johnson says that after the first occasion,
it seemed that every time he visited Harvey the same group was at
her house discussing the same things. On one of those occasions
Bunting said that he and Haydon were part of vigilante group who
took care of paedophiles, homosexuals and deviates. When pressed
during his evidence at the preliminary examination Marcus Johnson
agreed it was possible but not probable that Haydon was not present
when the term "vigilante" was used. He said that Haydon was present
at these violent conversations on more than one or two occasions and
that, although his "verbalisation was quite limited", Haydon
endorsed the tone of the conversations. He said Haydon took his lead
from Bunting and would back up the statements Bunting made about
violence and paedophiles by nodding his head and making a few
comments along the same lines. The tone of the conversations was
always about "taking care of these people" and that they "shouldn't
be on the earth".
The conversations described by Marcus Johnson
occurred when Harvey was living at Kilsby Street, Elizabeth South.
Harvey lived at Kilsby Street from October 1993 to April 1994.
Subsequently Harvey moved to another address and a relationship
developed between Bunting and Harvey. Marcus Johnson also says that
Harvey introduced Haydon to Elizabeth Haydon.
As mentioned, Elizabeth Haydon was Stewart's
sister. He says he first met Haydon in about March 1994. He was
aware that Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon began living together at 14
Catalina Road, Elizabeth. While they were living at that address,
Stewart met Bunting and Elizabeth Harvey.
Stewart recalls an occasion when Haydon took him
to Bunting's house. He heard Bunting tell Haydon that a young lad
who had been staying with Bunting had sexually interfered with
Elizabeth Haydon's son. Stewart says that Haydon told Bunting that
when Bunting found the "little rock spider", Bunting should give him
a call. Haydon was angry and yelling while he was talking to Bunting.
Haydon said he wanted to give the person a hiding and Bunting said
they would teach him a lesson.
A short time after the conversation, Haydon drove
Stewart back to Haydon's home. On the way, Haydon made a comment to
the effect that "they should all be rounded up and slaughtered like
Mrs Patricia Lewis is Elizabeth Haydon's mother.
She says that when Haydon and Elizabeth Haydon were living at
Catalina Road, she met Bunting. At times when she saw Haydon and
Bunting together, they discussed their hatred of homosexual persons
For present purposes, it is unnecessary to
discuss the evidence of a number of other witnesses who speak of
conversations involving Bunting and Wagner that disclose at least an
intense dislike for homosexual persons and paedophiles. I have
already referred to the chart known as the "rock spider wall".
The Crown argued that the paedophile/homosexual
theme exists with respect to the murders of Trezise, Davies,
Gardiner, Lane, Youde, Brooks, O'Dwyer and Johnson. In addition,
Bunting and Wagner referred to Porter as "waste". Davies was living
in a caravan at Allen's premises. Lane, Trevilyan and Elizabeth
Haydon each had knowledge of one murder. Access was taken to the
Centrelink benefits of Davies, Allen, Lane, Porter, Youde, Brooks,
O'Dwyer and Johnson. Each accused accessed the benefits of at least
one deceased. Gardiner's card was found at Mofflin Road, but the
benefits were cut off as a result of enquiries about Gardiner by
Snowtown is approximately 140 kilometres north of
Adelaide. The Crown places particular emphasis upon the evidence
that emanates from former bank premises at Snowtown. The Crown
argued that a proper appreciation of the facts and how they are
connected begins with the bank premises.
Police entered the bank on 20 May 1999. The bank
vault measures 2.4 metres by 3.6 metres. Together with a number of
other items, stored in the bank vault were six barrels containing
eight bodies. Items associated with the murders were found in the
vault and in the remainder of the premises including gloves, knives,
tape, sparklers, the Variac, handcuffs, protective clothing and
At the time of his arrest, Wagner had a key to
the external door of the bank. When police entered the premises, the
door to the vault was shut and locked. Mr Freeman fashioned a key
from wire which enabled the door to be unlocked. He had fashioned
such a key for Bunting and he was "pretty sure" that Haydon was
present and assisting at that time. A piece of wire fashioned in the
same manner and capable of opening the door to the vault was found
in the pit in the shed at Haydon's premises at Blackham Crescent. A
key capable of opening the handcuffs found in the vault was located
in the pit.
Inside the door to the vault and across the
doorway black plastic had been taped in place. Johnson's wallet and
a notebook containing the script of phrases spoken by Bunting to
Johnson and repeated by Johnson were found between the door and the
plastic. A slit in the centre of the plastic which enabled access
through the plastic to the vault was covered with tape. When that
tape was removed, a foul smell emanated from the vault. The evidence
establishes that Bunting has no sense of smell. Vlassakis says that
Bunting asked him about the smell. Air fresheners were put in place.
It appears that Haydon may not have a sense of smell.
Vlassakis says that gloves were worn when bodies
were handled. DNA consistent with the DNA of each accused was found
on gloves in the bank premises. (Bunting 3, Wagner 16 and Haydon 6).
Two gloves bore DNA consistent with that of Vlassakis. DNA
consistent with a number of deceased were found on numerous gloves.
On one of the three gloves containing DNA consistent with Johnson,
voluntary skeletal muscle was found. The presence of that muscle
tends to support the evidence of Vlassakis that Wagner removed flesh
from the body of Johnson. DNA consistent with that of Johnson was
also found on a knife in the vault and on tape and hair. DNA
consistent with Bunting was found on the tape.
Rope on a counter in the bank premises contained
DNA consistent with the DNA of Porter. DNA consistent with Youde was
found on tape, clothes, rope and hair from the rope. DNA consistent
with a number of deceased was also found on items contained in
plastic bags within the general area of the bank.
A pair of gloves was found in the pit at Blackham
Crescent. Both of the gloves contained DNA consistent with that of
Haydon. DNA consistent with that of Wagner was found on two gloves
in Porter's vehicle (the vehicle was at Mofflin Road). A glove in
Haydon's Landcruiser contained Haydon's fingerprint.
The fingerprints of the accused were found on
both moveable and fixed objects in the bank. The prints of Bunting
and Haydon were found on plastic capable of being used as a poncho
of the type used when dealing with bodies. The prints of all accused
were found on various items in the bank.
It is the Crown case that the evidence from the
bank and from the gloves found at Blackham Crescent, in Porter's
vehicle at Mofflin Road and in Haydon's Landcruiser not only
demonstrates a close link between each of the accused and the bank,
but also illustrates the degree of involvement of each accused in
the activities at the bank.
The Crown also pointed to evidence concerning the
renting of the bank and visits to the bank by all accused. The
evidence is capable of supporting a conclusion that the bank
premises were rented by Bunting and Haydon in January 1999. The
owners of the bank, Mr Andrew and Mrs Rosemary Michael, met two men
in connection with renting the bank who introduced themselves as
John Bunting and Mark. A key was provided. Both owners have
identified Bunting as involved. Mr Michael has identified Haydon as
the person introduced as "Mark". On 8 February 1999 the rental
agreement was left at the bank to be completed by those renting the
premises. On 10 February 1999 the agreement, which had been
completed in handwriting, was at the post office with the rent. The
agreement was in the names of John Bunting and Mark Lawrence of 4
Blackham Crescent, Smithfield. Lawrence was Haydon's former name. A
handwriting expert has expressed the view that Bunting filled out
the details and signed the document. She has also expressed the
opinion that there are similarities and no significant differences
between the signature of "Mark Lawrence" and the specimen signatures
of Haydon using the name Mark Lawrence. A thumb print of Bunting was
located on the document.
As to visits to the bank, I have referred to the
evidence of Mr Freeman and Vlassakis concerning the events of 9 May
1999 (the time at which Johnson was murdered). Vlassakis says that
he visited the vault on two other occasions. The first visit with
Haydon was in about March or April 1999. Bunting told Vlassakis to
go to Snowtown with Haydon to pay the rent. He was told to keep a
low profile. They travelled to Snowtown in Haydon's Holden Kingswood.
Haydon was driving. Haydon had a key to the side door. They entered
the bank together. The vault was locked.
Vlassakis says that after obtaining the rent book
from inside the premises, he and Haydon left in Haydon's car. Haydon
went into the supermarket for the purpose of paying the rent. The
rent book was put back in the bank by Haydon.
According to Vlassakis, the second trip was in
April 1999. He travelled to Snowtown in Haydon's Holden Kingswood
with Bunting, Wagner and Haydon. Bunting told Vlassakis to take a
change of clothes. On the way they stopped at Wagner's premises and
bags of premix cement were transferred from Wagner's car to Haydon's
vehicle. Vlassakis was scared that he was about to be killed. During
the trip there was discussion about previous murders.
Vlassakis says that once inside the bank premises,
Bunting manipulated the lock and all four entered the vault. Bunting
provided gloves for all of them to wear. Lids of barrels were lifted.
A comment was made by Bunting to the effect that he could not
believe how quickly Elizabeth Haydon was rotting. There was a lot of
laughing by Bunting and Wagner. Haydon was also laughing.
The bags of concrete were moved from the
Kingswood into the general bank premises together with buckets and
hoses. Bunting said he was going to cut the bodies into smaller
parts, put concrete into the bottom of the barrels and take them out
to sea and dump them. Previously Bunting had been pushing Vlassakis
to obtain a boat licence.
Vlassakis says that after the vehicle was
unloaded, the vault was re-opened. Bunting and Wagner began
dismembering the body of Youde. Vlassakis left the vault because he
could not cope with what was happening. He talked with Haydon in the
general bank premises. Haydon told Vlassakis that he could not
stomach it. From time to time Haydon would enter the vault and talk
with Bunting and Wagner. Vlassakis could hear Bunting and Wagner
laughing most of the time and when Haydon entered they were still
Vlassakis says that his clothes and hair "reeked"
as the stench had got into him. They travelled to the Freemans where
he, Bunting and Wagner each had a shower. Vlassakis is not certain
whether Haydon had a shower.
It is the Crown case that by 1999 there were four
people who were considered part of the enterprise. They were fully
trusted with all details and with access to the vault where the
bodies were stored. They were Bunting, Wagner, Haydon and Vlassakis.
All four were involved in the activities in the vault and in the
events leading to the storage in the vault of the barrels containing
Storage and Movement of Barrels
Vlassakis provides the earliest reference to
barrels. As mentioned, Vlassakis lived at Burdekin Avenue with
Bunting and Harvey. He became aware of the presence of a barrel in
the shed at Burdekin Avenue. Initially Vlassakis noticed an unusual
smell and was told by his mother that it was rotting cats. It was a
smell similar to a smell Vlassakis had experienced in a paddock, but
it was different because it was in a confined area. He felt queasy.
As discussed earlier in these reasons, Vlassakis
says that Porter was murdered by Bunting and Wagner at Burdekin
Avenue. Bunting showed Vlassakis the body of Porter in the shed.
According to Vlassakis, there was already a barrel in the shed. He
was shown the contents of that barrel by Bunting and the contents
were identified as the bodies of Lane and Gardiner. After the murder
of Porter, Bunting brought another barrel to the shed and Vlassakis
assisted in placing the body of Porter into the barrel. The bodies
of Gardiner and Lane were found in a barrel later marked D. The body
of Porter was in a barrel later marked B.
Youde was the next victim. Vlassakis says his
body was carried into the shed. Subsequently Vlassakis was present
when Bunting purchased another barrel and that barrel was placed in
the shed at Burdekin Avenue. According to Vlassakis the body of
Youde was placed into the new barrel, but it would not fit. The
deceased's foot was cut off and placed into the barrel separately.
As mentioned, Vlassakis says that subsequently he witnessed Bunting
and Wagner cutting up Youde's body in the vault. Parts of the body
were found in barrels later marked A and F.
In September 1998, Bunting moved from 3 Burdekin
Avenue to 26 Burdekin Avenue, Murray Bridge. Vlassakis moved to 23
Burdekin Avenue. At that time three barrels containing the bodies of
Gardiner, Lane, Porter and Youde were in the shed at 3 Burdekin
Avenue. Vlassakis says a truck was hired for the purpose of moving.
The barrels were loaded onto the truck by Bunting and Wagner.
Bunting told Vlassakis the barrels were going to Haydon's shed, but
Vlassakis was not involved in the move. Vlassakis observed three
barrels tied into the truck with rope. Two circular stains were left
behind in the shed at Burdekin.
Brooks was the next victim. He was murdered on
about 17 September 1998. Vlassakis says the murder occurred at 3
Burdekin Avenue in the last stages of the tenancy, but after the
barrels had been removed from the shed at those premises. As
discussed earlier in these reasons, according to Vlassakis the body
of Brooks was placed in the boot of a white Torana which was
collected by Haydon within a day or so of the murder.
Vlassakis says that when he subsequently attended
at the shed at Blackham Crescent and saw Haydon working on the
Torana, he saw a body on the floor of the pit in garbage bags which
he understood to be that of Brooks. He says he is "pretty certain"
that the barrels were in the garage as opposed to the pit. He did
not see any barrels in the pit. The smell emanating from the shed
was the same as the smell which had emanated from the shed at
Burdekin Avenue and subsequently emanated from the vault in the bank.
Bunting and Haydon went down into the pit and appeared to be moving
The body of Brooks was found in a barrel
subsequently marked C. Bunting spoke to Vlassakis about putting the
body in a barrel. The Crown says the obvious inferences are that the
barrels from Burdekin Avenue were in the shed at Blackham Crescent
and a fourth barrel was put in the shed for the body of Brooks.
O'Dwyer was murdered at Frances Street, Murray
Bridge in late October 1998. His body was found in a barrel
subsequently marked A. Parts of the body of Youde were also found in
that barrel. The inference is open from the evidence of Vlassakis
that the body of O'Dwyer was moved from those premises almost
immediately after the murder. Bunting told Vlassakis that the body
had not been left in the house and was in a barrel. Subsequently,
Bunting told Vlassakis that the barrel had been stored at Haydon's
premises. The Crown says that as the barrels and body of Porter were
taken from Murray Bridge to Blackham Crescent, the obvious place to
take the body of O'Dwyer was the same premises.
The next victim was Elizabeth Haydon. Her body
was found in a barrel subsequently marked E. There is no direct
evidence of storage in the shed at Blackham Crescent. The Crown says
that as Haydon was murdered at Blackham Crescent and, in view of the
evidence from which it can be inferred that other barrels containing
bodies were then at Blackham Crescent, it is highly unlikely that
the body of Elizabeth Haydon was stored at another premises.
Circular stains were subsequently observed on the
floor of the pit in the shed at Blackham Crescent, but the diameters
of the stains were not consistent with the diameters of the barrels
found in the vault. Some staining in the pit gave a positive
reaction on a presumptive test for blood. However, other substances
can also cause such a positive reaction. In addition, when those
stains were tested for the presence of DNA, the source was
identified as a higher primate.
The Crown says that when the police began
investigating the disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon, the barrels
were moved from Blackham Crescent. Six barrels were found in the
vault, but one of those barrels contained the body of Johnson who
was murdered in May 1999. According to Vlassakis, after the murder
of Elizabeth Haydon, Bunting arrived at Murray Bridge with a barrel
in the back of the Marquis. He told Vlassakis of the murder of
Elizabeth Haydon, but his conversation was mainly about the fact
that the police were on to him. Bunting said there were barrels in
Haydon's Landcruiser and on a trailer. He said one of the barrels
had to come to Murray Bridge and be placed in the back of a Sigma
which was parked at the rear of the premises occupied by Vlassakis
at 23 Burdekin Avenue. At that time Bunting and Harvey were living
across the road at number 26. The barrel was placed in the Sigma.
Bunting told Vlassakis that the barrel contained the body of Porter.
There was a strong smell emanating from the barrel.
Vlassakis says that the barrel was in the Sigma
at the rear of the premises for one or two months. On a hot day, if
he got close to the Sigma, the smell was detectable. Vlassakis
complained to Bunting about the smell. Gottwald lived next door at
25 Burdekin Avenue for a couple of weeks just before Christmas 1998.
He detected a smell coming from the Sigma.
Vlassakis moved to Strathalbyn. He left it to
Bunting to arrange the removal of the Sigma containing the barrel.
Subsequently Bunting told Vlassakis that the barrels had been moved
and were in a safe spot.
The Crown says that the barrel containing Porter
had first been stored at Burdekin Avenue and was moved to Blackham
Crescent with other barrels in September 1998. The obvious reason
for Bunting transporting that barrel back to Murray Bridge was the
concern about the presence of police at Blackham Crescent in
connection with enquiries into the disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon.
The movement of barrels is confirmed by other
evidence. As mentioned, Elizabeth Haydon was reported missing on 25
November 1998. On 26 November 1998 both Haydon and Elliott gave
statements to the police. According to Elliott, later on 26 November
1998 property was removed from the premises while she kept watch for
the police. Elliott heard property being removed from the ceiling.
Haydon's Landcruiser was loaded and removed on a trailer. Elliott
was not in a position to see what, if anything, was removed from the
shed and placed in the Landcruiser. It is the Crown case that
barrels containing bodies were moved from the shed to the
The trail of events is taken up by Mr and Mrs
Freeman. They moved to Hoyleton in about March 1998. Hoyleton is
approximately 100 kilometres north of Adelaide. According to Mr
Freeman, in October or November 1998 Bunting rang him and asked if
he could store a car at their property at Hoyleton. Bunting said the
car was owned by the friend and the friend was having a lot of
complaints from neighbours because the car stank. He needed to store
the car long enough for the smell to disappear and then he could
Mr Freeman says that about three to four hours
after the call, Bunting and Wagner arrived in a blue "Fairlane"
towing a trailer. Haydon's Landcruiser was on the trailer. It is the
Crown case that the "Fairlane" was the blue Ford Marquis which was
subsequently located at Mofflin Road.
The property on which the Freemans were living
was about one and a half to two acres in size. The Landcruiser was
taken off the trailer and parked at the bottom of the property. Both
Mr and Mrs Freeman noticed an odour like rotten meat.
When the vehicle arrived, Mr Freeman could see
that there was something in the back covered by a blanket. It looked
like the side of a black plastic drum. He assumed there were four
drums under the blanket by the way the blanket was sitting. He asked
Bunting and Wagner what was in the drums and Wagner said there was
all sorts of "crap" in them.
Mrs Freeman confirms that in late 1998 she was
aware that Bunting had telephoned and spoken to Mr Freeman about
storing a four wheel drive on the property. She says it was about
2.30 am when she heard a vehicle on the driveway. After about half
an hour she got dressed and went outside. As she exited the house
she immediately smelt a foul odour like really bad rotting meat. The
blue Ford Marquis was in the driveway and attached was a car trailer
carrying a Toyota four wheel drive. Wagner and Bunting were present.
Mrs Freeman enquired about the smell. Bunting
told her it was caused by kangaroo carcases in drums. She told
Bunting that the vehicle had to be parked at the corner of the block
well away from the house. A couple of days later when Mrs Freeman
attempted to approach the Landcruiser, she was unable to get closer
than about twenty feet because of the smell emanating from the
vehicle. There appeared to be sheets and blankets over the windows.
According to Mrs Freeman, Bunting continued to
visit approximately every two weeks. On occasions he was accompanied
by Wagner. Bunting spoke about kangaroo shooting. He said that he,
Wagner and Haydon were involved in a business. They shot kangaroos,
minced the meat up and sold it for pet food. The remaining carcasses
were in the barrels stored in the Landcruiser. Mr Freeman suggested
that Bunting empty the carcasses into a creek which would not appear
unusual on a sheep station. Bunting said he could not do that
because he had shot the kangaroos in the head and the bullets were
still lodged in the skulls. He told Mrs Freeman that Haydon had been
charged with having unlicensed firearms and that the police were
looking for evidence to charge him for using the firearms while
unlicensed. Bunting was concerned that if anyone found the bullets
the police would charge Haydon.
Mrs Freeman said she telephoned Bunting on a few
occasions complaining about the smell and asking him to get rid of
the Landcruiser. Bunting kept putting it off. He said he had sold
the vehicle for $1800 and was waiting for the purchaser to come up
with the money.
In January 1999, Mr and Mrs Freeman moved from
Hoyleton to 25 Railway Terrace West, Snowtown. Bunting and Wagner
assisted in the move. Not long before the move, Bunting asked
whether he could store the Landcruiser at the Snowtown address. Mrs
Freeman says she eventually gave in on the proviso that he did
something about the odour. About a week into the move Bunting and
Wagner said they were going to flush the drums of kangaroos
carcasses out with water into the septic tank at Hoyleton. The next
morning they arrived at Snowtown. Both stunk of the odour that had
been emanating from the Landcruiser. Mrs Freeman was told that the
barrels had been flushed out.
Both Mr and Mrs Freeman say that a car carrying
trailer was hired from a premises at Clare. It appears that the
hiring occurred on 14 January 1999. Mr Freeman says that Bunting,
Wagner and Haydon were involved in towing the Landcruiser to
Snowtown. He did not want to be involved because of the smell.
According to Mr Freeman, when the vehicle arrived at Snowtown,
Haydon drove the vehicle from the street up the driveway. A Sigma
was towed behind the Landcruiser into the driveway.
There is an inconsistency between the statements
of Mr and Mrs Freeman in respect of the placement of the Landcruiser
in the driveway. Mrs Freeman says that she saw Bunting drive the
Landcruiser off the car trailer and use that vehicle to manoeuvre
the Sigma into the driveway. She also says that the windows were
down on the Landcruiser and no smell emanated other than on one
occasion when it was a really hot day. There appeared to be
something large inside the Landcruiser covered with blankets. She
assumed they were the barrels with kangaroo carcasses in them.
After Mr and Mrs Freeman had moved to Snowtown,
Mr Freeman became aware that the bank building was available for
rent. He knew that Bunting was looking for a place to rent. He told
Bunting about the bank. About a fortnight later Bunting told him
that he was renting the premises. Approximately two weeks after Mr
Freeman became aware that Bunting was renting the premises, at about
9.00 pm or 10.00 pm Bunting and Wagner arrived at the Freeman's. A
trailer was being towed behind the Ford Marquis. There were four
black barrels on the trailer. Plastic food wrap was in position
around the lid of each barrel. Previously, Mr Freeman had told them
to get rid of the barrels because the neighbours had started to
complain and were blaming the sheep for the smell. On a hot day a
whiff of the smell carried into the kitchen.
Mr Freeman was told that they were going to get
rid of the barrels. Either that night or the next day, Bunting told
Mr Freeman that the barrels had been put in the vault at the bank.
Freeman had been told at Hoyleton that the barrels contained
kangaroos and other assorted dead animals. Mr Freeman did not see
the barrels being removed from the Landcruiser to the trailer.
Mrs Freeman became aware of the renting of the
bank. She recalls that she and her husband were shown through the
bank. According to Mrs Freeman the following evening Bunting, Wagner
and Haydon came to their home. Haydon had a trailer attached to the
rear of his car. She saw a sack truck. Bunting said they were going
to get rid of the "happy roos". He did not say where they were to be
placed. Mrs Freeman remained inside and she could see Haydon,
Bunting and Wagner walking past the kitchen window. She was unable
to see precisely what they were doing, but she thought they were
removing the barrels. A few days later Bunting and Wagner again
attended at the home of the Freeman's. Bunting told Mrs Freeman that
he had moved the "happy roos" and put them in the vault. Mrs Freeman
said that the lady living next door would complain of the smell.
Bunting told her he had sealed the vault with plastic to keep the
Mrs Freeman also recalls a subsequent telephone
call in which Bunting told her that they were going to pour acid
into the drums to try and break the kangaroo carcasses down. That
evening she and Mr Freeman met Bunting, Wagner and Haydon at the
Terminus Hotel at Balaklava. Later that evening they separated on
the understanding that they would meet later at the house. Bunting
had a key to the house. When Mr and Mrs Freeman arrived home about
three or four hours later, Haydon, Bunting and Wagner were in the
premises. Bunting was finishing up in the shower. According to Mrs
Freeman, Wagner smelt of the same odour that had emanated from the
Landcruiser and she told him to have a shower. After Wagner showered,
Haydon had a shower. They changed into clean clothes, washed the
clothes they had been wearing and hung them on the clothes line. The
three men stayed the night.
Only four barrels will fit in the Landcruiser. Mr
Freeman saw four barrels on the trailer when the barrels were moved
from the Landcruiser at his home to the bank. Six barrels were found
in the vault.
The evidence to which I have referred is capable
of establishing that barrels containing bodies were first stored at
Burdekin Avenue and then at Blackham Crescent. One barrel was then
moved to Murray Bridge and four were taken in the back of the
Landcruiser from Blackham Crescent to Hoyleton. The final move was
to the bank vault at Snowtown. To differing extents, all accused
were involved in the movement and storage of the barrels containing
Property and Benefits
The Crown also relies upon an overall view of the
activities of the accused in connection with the property and
benefits of a number of victims. Each accused was involved to a
differing extent. The caravan of Davies was taken and sold. The
motor vehicles of Allen, Lane, Porter and Johnson were taken. Other
property of Davies, Allen, Gardiner, Lane, Trevilyan, Porter, Youde,
O'Dwyer and Johnson was taken. Each accused received some benefit
from the use or sale of property.
Documentation and property associated with a
number of the deceased were found at premises occupied by the
accused or in vehicles at those premises. It is the Crown case that
Bunting was in possession of such material relating to ten victims
while Haydon and Wagner "had property" relating to nine victims.
However, counsel for Haydon submitted that a careful examination of
the evidence concerning the property relating to a number of victims
demonstrates that it is misleading to say that Haydon "had property"
relating to nine victims.
The caravan in which Davies was living at the
time of his death was moved by Bunting and others to premises
occupied by Vlassakis at 14 Catalina Road, Elizabeth. However,
Haydon was not involved in the movement of the caravan to those
premises and, at that time Bunting's wife, Elizabeth Harvey, was
living at those premises. Bunting received the proceeds from the
sale of the caravan. While Vlassakis says that Haydon assisted in
cleaning out the caravan, according to Allen's daughter, Cannon, she
saw Bunting, Wagner and Allen cleaning out the caravan prior to its
removal from Allen's premises. In these circumstances, for the
purposes of connecting Haydon to a relevant joint enterprise
pursuant to which Davies was killed, counsel for Haydon urged that
the evidence is not capable of supporting the view that Haydon "had
property" belonging to Davies.
As to the deceased Allen, counsel for Haydon
submitted that the documentation found in Elliott's briefcase in the
lounge room at Blackham Crescent and in a shed occupied by Elliott
at those premises should be ignored for these purposes. Pursuant to
Bunting's instructions, Elliott was impersonating Allen. In these
circumstances, documents in her possession cannot be said to be in
the possession of Haydon. Similarly, it cannot be said that Haydon
was in possession of documentation relating to Allen that was found
in a Sigma motor vehicle registered in the name of Harvey and parked
at Blackham Crescent. That vehicle had been under the control of
Bunting and Harvey.
The remaining property of Allen upon which the
Crown relies is clothing taken from a bedroom at Blackham Crescent
in December 1998 as part of the police investigation into the
disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon. The property is not distinctive.
It comprises two Target brand tops. While one witness has identified
the tops as belonging to Allen, Elliott says they belonged to
Elizabeth Haydon. Even if it is postulated that the tops belonged to
Allen and that Bunting or Wagner gave them to Haydon for use by
Elizabeth Haydon, counsel argued that those facts are incapable of
supporting an inference that Haydon "had property" belonging to
The only property said to have belonged to Lane
that was subsequently linked to Haydon is a blanket found in
Haydon's Landcruiser. The deceased's mother identifies the blanket.
Counsel pointed out that she had very little contact with her son.
However, accepting the reliability of her identification of the
blanket for these purposes, the circumstances in which the blanket
came to be in the Landcruiser deprive it of any probative value. Mrs
Lane saw the blanket in the back seat of Lane's Sigma motor vehicle.
Bunting took possession of that motor vehicle. He conveyed it to the
home of Mr and Mrs Freeman. Later there was a swap involving that
vehicle. In addition, the Landcruiser became unregistered in
September 1998. Further, the evidence demonstrates that Bunting and
Wagner were involved in conveying the Landcruiser to the home of Mr
and Mrs Freeman at Hoyleton. In these circumstances, counsel argued
that the obvious source of the blanket was Bunting or Wagner and the
existence of the blanket in the Landcruiser is not capable of
providing a relevant connection between Lane and Haydon.
In respect of Porter, the Crown rely upon the
evidence of Vlassakis that Haydon accessed Porter's benefits.
Counsel for Haydon pointed out, however, that Vlassakis initially
accessed Porter's benefits. Porter having been murdered in April
1998, it was not until Vlassakis moved back to Bundarra Court in
1999 that he became aware that Haydon had Porter's keycard. The
documents found in the shed at Blackham Crescent were found in a
Myer bag together with documents related to Bunting and Wagner.
As to the deceased Youde, counsel for Haydon did
not suggest that the evidence could not support an inference that
Haydon "had property" of Youde. Similarly, through the evidence of
Vlassakis, Haydon is linked to the property of Brooks in the sense
of accessing the benefits of Brooks.
A lounge belonging to O'Dwyer was found at
Blackham Crescent. Counsel for Haydon pointed out that the presence
of the lounge at Blackham Crescent should be viewed in the context
that Elliott was in a relationship with Bunting. It was Elliott's
regular practice to sit on the lounge watching television for
lengthy periods each day. Bunting was at the premises daily and
regularly stayed overnight. In addition, others received O'Dwyer's
property from Bunting and the Crown does not suggest that such
receipt implicates those persons in the murder of O'Dwyer.
Johnson's motor vehicle was brought to Blackham
Crescent. However, Bunting offered the vehicle to Elliott. She
subsequently drove it to Victoria. Wagner and Vlassakis removed
items from the vehicle. Bunting retook possession on about 19 May
1999. There is no suggestion that the car was ever intended for
Haydon or that he took possession of the vehicle at any time.
Ultimately, counsel for Haydon submitted that the
first deceased in respect of which it can reasonably be said that
Haydon "had property" was Youde. Porter could be included if the use
of Porter's keycard is treated as having property for these purposes.
Similarly, Haydon accessed the benefits of Brooks. Analysed in this
way, the best that can be said from the Crown point of view is that
Haydon "had property" relating to three not nine victims, namely,
Porter, Youde and Brooks.
Finally with respect to property, counsel for
Haydon sounded a general warning. She pointed out that a large
amount of documentation relating only to Bunting, Wagner or
Vlassakis was found at Blackham Crescent. According to Elliott, from
November 1998 Bunting was sleeping at Blackham Crescent one or two
nights every ten to twelve days. His mail was coming to Blackham
Crescent. He moved some of his belongings to Blackham Crescent,
particularly after moving from Murray Bridge. In addition, Elliott
was living at the premises and a large amount of documentation
related to her activities with respect to her impersonating Allen.
Counsel urged that, generally speaking, Blackham Crescent was being
used as a storage area.
It is the Crown case that possession of material
belonging to or related to deceased persons must be viewed in the
light of the activities at Blackham Crescent after police became
involved in investigating the disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon. The
Crown says the inference is open that incriminating material was
removed from the premises. Some items were left behind. Those items
included the key capable of opening handcuffs found at the vault and
the wire fashioned as a key capable of unlocking the vault door. A
pair of disposable gloves bearing DNA consistent with Haydon's DNA
and maggot casings were also found in the pit.
As to financial reward, the Crown pointed out
that access was taken to the benefits of all but four of the
deceased. No attempt was made to access benefits to which Trezise
was entitled. As to Gardiner, Zuritta told Centrelink that he had
left without giving a forwarding address and his benefits were cut
off. The death of Trevilyan was made to look like a suicide. The
disappearance of Elizabeth Haydon was reported to the police.
Each accused gained financially from the benefits
of one or more deceased. It is the Crown case that Bunting accessed
the funds of Davies, Allen, Youde and O'Dwyer. Wagner accessed the
benefits of Lane while Haydon accessed the benefits of Porter and
Brooks through an account in the name of Porter. Vlassakis accessed
the benefits of Porter, Youde and Johnson. A keycard related to
O'Dwyer's account was given to the police by Vlassakis. According to
Vlassakis, Bunting kept the various cards. Not all cards were
recovered. Cards relating to Davies, Allen, Youde, O'Dwyer and
Johnson were at Bundarra Court. A newer card in respect of an
account in the name of Allen was found in a Sigma registered to
Harvey and situated at Blackham Crescent. Cards in the names of Lane
and Elizabeth Haydon were found at Mofflin Road. A photocopy of the
rear of a card in the name of Porter was found in the ceiling at
Bundarra Court. The new card for Brooks' account was located in Post
Office box 378 at the Elizabeth Post Office. That box was registered
in Wagner's name.
In order to maintain the impersonations and
access to the various accounts, details of the victims were required.
As mentioned, Vlassakis gives evidence of the extraction of details
from some deceased. Personal details concerning Allen were found on
a piece of paper in the main bedroom at Bundarra Court. Those
details had been written by Bunting. Also in the ceiling at Bundarra
was a book containing the PIN number and family details of Porter.
Those details were also in Bunting's handwriting. Porter's name and
telephone PIN number were written by Bunting in a notebook that was
found in Haydon's Holden station wagon. A piece of paper containing
details relating to Brooks was found in the ceiling at Bundarra. The
details were in Bunting's handwriting. Between the vault door and
the plastic lining, a book containing details relating to Johnson
was located. The details were written in Bunting's handwriting.
Prints of Bunting, Wagner and Vlassakis were found on that book.
Against that background, the Crown argued that a
joint trial of all accused on all accounts is not only authorised,
but is appropriate. The joinder of accused is governed by common law
principles. Section 278(1) of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act
1935 authorises the joinder of two or more offences in the same
Information if the charges are founded on the same facts, or form,
or a part of, a series of offences of the same or a similar
character. The Crown contended that the offences charged on the
Information qualify as a series of offences of the same or a similar
character. In my opinion the Crown contention is correct.
The offences of murder charged in Counts 1 and
3-13 are plainly offences of a "similar character". Counsel for
Wagner suggested that assisting offenders in connection with the
murder charged in Count 1 is not an offence of the same or similar
character as the offences of murder. This point was taken in the
context of the joinder of sexual offences with counts of false
imprisonment and assault in R v Garrett (1988) 50 SASR 392. King CJ,
with whom Jacobs and von Doussa JJ agreed, said (401):
"It is necessary to determine whether there is
sufficient nexus between the offences alleged in the information
to justify the application to them of the description contained in
the section. I feel no doubt that the alleged offences of false
imprisonment and assault against Miss Fuller were a part of a
series of offences in the relevant sense. They formed part of a
course of conduct, according to the case for the prosecution,
extending through a large part of the association between the
appellant and Miss Fuller and involving violence towards and
domination of her. I think that the alleged offences of false
imprisonment and assault committed against Gray are so connected
with the alleged offences against Miss Fuller that they should
properly be regarded as part of the series. Ordinarily false
imprisonment and assault would not be thought of as offences of a
similar character to rape. A similarity may arise, however, not
only from the legal elements of the offences in question, but also
from the facts which constitute them and the circumstances in
which and the relationships out of which they arise. An important
characteristic of the rapes alleged by Miss Fuller is the element
of personal domination of her by the appellant. The false
imprisonment and assault upon her alleged to have occurred on 4
October contain that same element of personal domination and are
clearly linked with the allegations of earlier sexual violence. I
think that they are sufficiently similar in character to be
regarded together with the alleged rapes as part of a series of
offences of the same or similar character. Again in this
connection, I think that the offences alleged to have been
committed against Gray are so linked with the alleged offences
against Miss Fuller that they, too, should be regarded as offences
of similar character to the alleged rapes. The admissibility of
evidence of one offence on the trial of the other is regarded as
an important factor in determining whether alleged offences are
part of a series of the same or similar character: see R v Kray
 1 QB 125 esp at 130-131; R v Ludlow  AC 29 esp per
Lord Pearson at 39. For reasons which I explain below, I consider
that the evidence of the alleged rapes was admissible in support
of the charges of false imprisonment and assault."
The reasoning of the Court of Criminal Appeal in
Garrett was applied by Mullighan J in R v Luczkowski (1988) 54 SASR
In my opinion, the same reasoning can be applied
to the circumstances under consideration. The similarity arises from
the facts and circumstances in which and the relationships out of
which the offences arose. As will appear later in these reasons, in
my view the evidence of the circumstances relating to the murder of
Trezise and the involvement of Wagner in assisting the offenders is
admissible in respect of the subsequent offences of murder. A
sufficient nexus exists between the offences to constitute a series:
DeJesus v The Queen  HCA 65; (1986) 61 ALJR 1.
The Crown submitted that the evidence was capable
of establishing the existence of an over-arching joint enterprise to
which each accused was a party and pursuant to which each deceased
was killed. The common enterprise began in about 1992 with the
murder of Trezise. The accused were linked by their common hatred of
homosexual persons and paedophiles. The enterprise developed. Where
possible the accused sought to benefit from the property of the
deceased and to access any Centrelink benefits to which the deceased
were entitled at the times of their deaths. Where necessary,
personal details were extracted from the deceased immediately before
their deaths with a view to ensuring the continuation of the
benefits and to arranging access by the accused to those benefits.
Steps were taken to create the impression that the deceased were
still alive. False stories were spread to explain disappearances and
false sightings of deceased were created. The voices of some
deceased were recorded with a view to playing those voices to
friends or family thereby creating the impression that the deceased
were still alive but wanted nothing to do with family or friends.
According to the Crown, Vlassakis was groomed and
eventually became a trusted member of the group. Each of the accused
and Vlassakis were directly involved in one or more murders. Each
accused benefited from the death of one or more deceased through
receiving property and by accessing Centrelink benefits. Each
accused was actively involved in the storage of bodies and in the
movement of barrels containing bodies and of other material in order
to avoid exposure of the crimes.
It is the Crown case that as the enterprise
between the accused developed, it came to include the murder of
persons it was thought necessary or appropriate to kill because they
knew of other murders and were perceived as creating a risk of
exposure. The nature of the enterprise was such that each accused
was implicated in each murder even if a particular accused was not
party to plans to murder a particular deceased nor present at the
time of the murder.
In support of a joint trial, the Crown submitted
that evidence relating to each count is admissible in respect of the
other counts (cross-admissible). However, although it is the Crown
case that the features associated with the murders and subsequent
events are such that an underlying unity between the murders is
demonstrated, for the purposes of the applications for separate
trials the Crown did not seek to rely upon striking similarities as
a basis of cross-admissibility.
In summary, the heads of admissibility upon which
the Crown relied are as follows:
(1) The crimes are connected by such an
underlying unity, system or pattern that commonsense gives rise to
the objective improbability of the crimes being committed other than
as alleged by the Crown.
(2) Each count is cross-admissible upon the
others for the following purposes:
(i) to prove both the existence of the enterprise
as alleged by the Crown and that each accused was a party to the
enterprise at the relevant times;
(ii) to negate an innocent association or
relationship between the three accused;
(iii) to negate an innocent interpretation of the
involvement of the accused in accessing property and benefits,
possession of property and material associated with the deceased,
giving false stories, storing and moving of bodies and involvement
at the bank premises at Snowtown; i.e. to negate an interpretation
of these matters inconsistent with the involvement of each accused
in the crimes of murder;
(iv) to prove that each death was murder; counsel
have indicated that the issue of murder as opposed to natural causes
or suicide is a live issue in respect of the deaths of Allen and
Trevilyan; in other counts, no indication has been given; a probable
cause of death is attributed for some deaths and in others no cause
can be attributed because of the condition of the bodies.
(3) The circumstances associated with Trezise are
admissible for the purposes of proving a motive to kill Lane and
(4) The circumstances associated with Lane are
admissible for the purposes of proving a motive to kill Trevilyan.
(5) The listing of names of Trezise, Davies, Lane,
Gardiner and Porter to Youde connects those crimes to the murder of
(6) The property of various victims was found
collected together and gives "colour" to the fact of possession.
(7) The circumstances of each death are
admissible for purposes associated with Vlassakis. Without reference
to all deaths, the jury would be given an incomplete picture of the
role of Vlassakis and of his relationships with each of the accused.
In order to place the evidence of Vlassakis in its proper context,
it is necessary that he give evidence of the development of his
relationship with Bunting and of his role and knowledge with respect
to all deaths and associated matters. In addition, as Vlassakis is
an accomplice, a jury will be required to consider whether his
evidence is corroborated. It will be impossible for a jury to
properly assess the evidence of Vlassakis and determine the question
of corroboration without reference to all of the evidence concerning
all the deaths.
Each accused challenged the Crown contention as
to cross-admissibility. In particular, counsel for Haydon submitted
that the evidence admissible against Haydon on each count is in a
very small compass. In respect of Trezise, other than the evidence
of Vlassakis concerning the conversation between Haydon and Bunting
as to what Haydon had told Elizabeth Haydon about the murder of
Trezise, there is no evidence connecting Haydon to the death of
Trezise. Counsel contended there is no evidence to connect Haydon to
the death of any other deceased except Youde. In view of the lack of
evidence implicating Haydon, the risk of misuse of inadmissible
evidence to fill the gaps is particularly high. There is such a
large volume of evidence that is inadmissible against Haydon and
highly prejudicial to him that a fair trial would not be possible if
he is jointly tried with the other accused.
Counsel for Haydon also advanced additional
propositions which can be summarised as follows:
(1) The features relied upon by the Crown to
establish the existence of an over-arching joint enterprise to which
Haydon was a party and pursuant to which all deceased were killed
are features that exist with respect to a number of other persons.
In particular, if the reasoning the Crown sought to apply to Haydon
was applied to Vlassakis, he would be guilty of the murder of
Elizabeth Haydon. The conduct of the Crown is inconsistent. An
examination of those features as they apply to other persons
demonstrates the flawed nature of the reasoning. In addition, the
evidence being capable of implicating other persons in various
murders, it cannot be said that the murders were committed as part
of an over-arching joint enterprise involving only the three accused
and Vlassakis. The possibility that the murders occurred pursuant to
individual enterprises to which Haydon was not a party cannot be
(2) As to the group dynamics, a careful
examination of the evidence demonstrates that the dynamics are
inconsistent with the Crown version of an over-arching joint
enterprise involving the accused and Vlassakis. What is demonstrated
is that Haydon was the odd person out. Bunting was single-minded in
his approach to murder and was joined in that single-mindedness by
Wagner. Bunting selected the targets and planned the killings.
Bunting was a killer who acted independently and not pursuant to
some over-arching joint enterprise.
Over-arching Joint Enterprise
The concept of an over-arching joint enterprise
to kill persons it was considered appropriate or necessary to kill
is essential to the Crown case against Haydon in respect of the
deaths of Davies, Allen, Gardiner, Lane, Trevilyan, Porter, Brooks,
O'Dwyer and Johnson. Unless the Crown succeeds in establishing the
existence of such an enterprise, and in establishing both that
Haydon was a party to the enterprise and that each of those deceased
was killed pursuant to the enterprise, the Crown case against Haydon
with respect to those deceased could not succeed. As to Trezise, in
the absence of such an enterprise encompassing the death of Trezise,
the only evidence implicating Haydon in the death of Trezise is
Haydon's conversation with Bunting that was overheard by Vlassakis
and the statements by Haydon to Stewart and McKenzie. The
conversation overheard by Vlassakis occurred approximately six years
after the murder of Trezise. For these purposes I put aside the
listing of names by Bunting to Youde because Vlassakis says that
Haydon simply repeated some of the names listed by Bunting. That
repetition is capable of being viewed as confirmation of Haydon's
knowledge of the murder of Trezise, but it is not capable of being
used as an admission by Haydon that he was implicated in the murder
The various features upon which the Crown relies
to establish the existence of an over-arching joint enterprise must
be considered in conjunction with the evidence directly related to
each of the deaths. On the Crown case, more than one person is
involved in each of the murders. In respect of each murder, it is
necessary for the Crown to lead evidence capable of excluding the
possibility that it was committed pursuant to an individual
enterprise rather than the over-arching enterprise for which the
Crown contended. In my opinion, the following summary demonstrates
the inadequacy of the evidence in this regard.
Davies was murdered in December 1995. The
evidence tends to suggest that a specific incident led to Bunting
and Wagner torturing and killing Davies with the assistance of
Harvey. There is no evidence that Haydon was involved or that Haydon
was present at conversations about the murder. While the deceased's
caravan was stored at the premises occupied by Haydon, Harvey was
also living at those premises and the evidence tends to suggest that
the caravan was intended for use by Harvey. The involvement of
Haydon in cleaning out the caravan is of little significance.
Allen died in November 1996. On the assumption
that she was murdered, there is no evidence that Haydon was involved.
The evidence supports the view that Haydon was not involved in the
subsequent movement of Allen's property. In view of Bunting's
regular presence at Blackham Crescent, the finding of the two tops
at Blackham Crescent in 1998 is of limited significance. Although
the fraud on Centrelink with respect to Allen's benefits began in
late 1996, there is no evidence that Haydon was involved in that
fraud until September 1998 when he drove Elliott to Owen. That was
followed by the trip to Berri in March 1999. Documentation relating
to Allen found at Blackham Crescent was found in localities
associated with Elliott and Harvey, both of whom had been involved
in impersonating Allen.
The next murder was that of Gardiner in about
September 1997. As mentioned, there is evidence capable of
supporting an inference that a fallout occurred between the families
of Haydon and Bunting and that a break in the relationship occurred
between late 1996 and mid-1998.
There is no evidence that Haydon was involved in
the murder of Gardiner or in the events relating to Gardiner that
preceded or followed his death.
Lane was murdered in about October 1997.
According to Vlassakis, after the murder Haydon was present for at
least one conversation about the murder when Bunting and Wagner told
Vlassakis and Haydon about wrapping Lane's body in a carpet. However,
there is no evidence connecting Haydon to this murder. Haydon was
not involved in the telling of false stories or in the perpetration
of a fraud against Centrelink in respect of Lane's benefits. In the
circumstances previously discussed, the finding of a blanket
belonging to Lane in Haydon's Landcruiser is of no significance to
the question whether Haydon was implicated in the murder of Lane.
Trevilyan died on 5 November 1997. On the
assumption for present purposes that he was murdered, there is no
evidence implicating Haydon in the murder. The evidence tends to
support the view that the decision to murder Trevilyan followed the
incident involving the knife and the child of Mills. It appears
unlikely that any conversation occurred which would have made Haydon
aware in advance of an intention to kill Trevilyan.
Porter was murdered in April 1998. Vlassakis says
that Haydon was not associating with Bunting at that time. The
evidence of Vlassakis excludes the involvement of Haydon in this
murder. Haydon was not involved in the activities immediately after
the murder such as the movement of Porter's vehicle or in setting up
access to Porter's Centrelink benefits. The earliest connection
between Haydon and those benefits are ATM receipts related to
Porter's account found in the bedroom at Blackham Crescent dated 8
and 16 October 1998. It was not until 1999 that Vlassakis became
aware that Haydon was using Porter's account.
Youde was murdered in August 1998. Vlassakis says
Haydon was present at the murder and gives an account of the events
that is capable of implicating Haydon in that murder.
After the body of Youde had been put into a
barrel, there were three barrels stored in the shed at Burdekin
Avenue. They were moved in September 1998 and before the murder of
Brooks. Irrespective of any statement by Bunting, the evidence is
capable of supporting the inference that they were moved from
Burdekin Avenue to the shed at Blackham Crescent. The evidence is
also capable of supporting the inference that Haydon was aware of
the storage of barrels in his shed and that he was aware that the
barrels contained bodies of murdered persons.
Brooks was murdered in mid September 1998.
Vlassakis is an eye witness. Haydon was not present. Bunting lured
Brooks to Murray Bridge. There is no evidence that Haydon was aware
of an intention to kill Brooks. The evidence is capable of
supporting a finding that, within a day or so of the murder, Haydon
attended at Murray Bridge for the purposes of removing the body of
Brooks and taking it to his shed at Blackham Crescent. Haydon was
given access to Brooks' Centrelink benefits through the use of
O'Dwyer was murdered in October 1998. Vlassakis
was a witness to the torture that occurred before the murder. He
excludes any involvement of Haydon. Similarly, he excludes any
involvement of Haydon in the activities of Bunting before the murder.
After the murder, a lounge belonging to O'Dwyer was taken to
Blackham Crescent and, for present purposes, I will assume that the
evidence is capable of supporting an inference that O'Dwyer's body
was stored in the shed at Haydon's premises.
Elizabeth Haydon was murdered in late November
1998. Vlassakis says that he overheard Haydon telling Bunting that
he, Haydon, had told Elizabeth Haydon about the murder of Trezise.
As mentioned, in my view the proposed evidence is capable of
supporting a finding that Elizabeth Haydon was killed while Elliott
and Haydon were absent from Blackham Crescent. On that basis, it
follows that later that evening Haydon knowingly made a false
statement to Elliott. As I have indicated, in my view the totality
of the evidence is capable of supporting an inference that when
Haydon and Elliott left the premises, Haydon was aware that Bunting
and Wagner were intending to kill Elizabeth Haydon. In those
circumstances, the evidence is capable of supporting an inference
that Haydon is implicated in the murder by being party to a plan to
kill the deceased and through his assistance and encouragement in
participating in the removal of Elliott from the premises.
Following the murder of Elizabeth Haydon, and
after police began to make inquiries about her disappearance, the
accused were all involved in the removal of incriminating material
from Blackham Crescent. In particular, the barrels containing the
bodies were moved to Hoyleton. Subsequently, Haydon was involved in
renting the bank premises for the purposes of using the premises for
the storage of the barrels. The barrels were moved from Hoyleton to
the Freemans at Snowtown and, subsequently, to the bank vault.
Haydon visited the bank. The evidence from the
bank premises supports the view that all accused had active
involvement within the bank premises. According to Vlassakis, Haydon
was involved in taking concrete to the premises and was present
during both discussions about the body of Elizabeth Haydon and the
dismembering of the body of Youde.
Johnson was murdered on 9 May 1999. The evidence
is capable of supporting the view that Haydon was aware of Bunting's
intention to kill Johnson. That knowledge came from the occasion on
which Bunting obtained handcuffs from the ceiling at Bundarra Court.
In my view, however, Haydon's presence when Bunting obtained the
handcuffs is not capable of supporting a finding that Haydon
counselled or procured the murder of Johnson. Vlassakis lured
Johnson to Snowtown and was present until shortly before Bunting
killed Johnson. His evidence excludes any involvement of Haydon.
After the murder, Johnson's motor vehicle was
taken to Blackham Crescent. Bunting took the vehicle to that address
in order to offer it to Elliot. The presence of that vehicle at
Blackham Crescent is of no significance in the case against Haydon
other than demonstrating that Bunting regarded the premises as a
The nature of the relationship between Bunting
and Haydon is illustrated by the fact that Bunting told Haydon of
the murder after arriving at Blackham Crescent. However, there is no
evidence to implicate Haydon in any of the subsequent activities
with respect to Johnson.
In my opinion, independently of implication based
on the over-arching joint enterprise relied upon by the Crown, the
evidence is not capable of implicating Haydon in the murders of any
deceased other than Trezise, Youde and Elizabeth Haydon.
As to the existence of the over-arching joint
enterprise for which the Crown contended, Vlassakis positively
excludes the presence of Haydon at the times of a number of deaths.
In addition, Vlassakis says that Haydon was not present at any
conversations with respect to a number of deaths. On the assumption
that Haydon was involved in the murder of Trezise in 1992, the next
murder to which Haydon is connected by participation in any form is
that of Youde in 1998. Haydon's involvement with property of victims
was minimal. He first accessed benefits in October 1998,
approximately four months after the death of Porter. Haydon's
assistance with respect to the barrels did not occur until September
1998 when Bunting was shifting from Burdekin Avenue and needed a
place to store the barrels.
In these circumstances, in my opinion the
evidence that the Crown proposes to lead is incapable of
establishing the existence of an over-arching joint enterprise to
which Haydon was a party that had as its object the killing of
persons it was appropriate or necessary to kill. Further, the
evidence is incapable of establishing that any of the deceased were
murdered pursuant to such an enterprise. For these purposes, an over-arching
joint enterprise of the type relied upon by the Crown is to be
distinguished from a continuing relationship or association between
the accused within which the accused shared a knowledge or
contemplation that persons would be killed from time to time.
However, whether each accused is guilty of the individual murders
depends upon their knowledge of and involvement in each murder.
For these reasons I reached the view that the
trial of Haydon with respect to the deaths of Davies, Allen,
Gardiner, Lane, Trevilyan, Porter, Brooks, O'Dwyer and Johnson
should be separated from a trial or trials with respect to the
remaining three deaths. I recognise that the effect of my ruling as
to the inadequacy of the evidence with respect to those counts has
the practical effect that the Crown is unable to proceed against
Haydon with respect to those counts because of the absence of
evidence implicating Haydon in those murders.
As to the murder of Trezise, in the absence of
the over-arching joint enterprise, the Crown is left to rely upon
the evidence of Vlassakis, Stewart and McKenzie as to statements
made by Haydon. The critical issues are whether the statements were
made and, if so, whether any of the statements can reasonably be
viewed as an admission of implication in the murder of Trezise. In
my opinion, Haydon's knowledge of subsequent murders, his
involvement approximately six years later in the murders of Youde
and Elizabeth Haydon and his involvement with the bodies and the
bank are not admissible on a trial with respect to the murder of
Trezise. In those circumstances, bearing in mind the nature and
volume of the evidence to be led in respect of the subsequent
murders, I am of the view that the trial of Haydon with respect to
the murder of Trezise should be held separately from the trial of
any other count against Haydon.
The question remains as to whether the charges
against Haydon with respect to the deaths of Youde and Elizabeth
Haydon should be heard in one trial with each other and with the
trial or trials of Bunting and Wagner with respect to those and
other deaths. It is convenient first to deal with the applications
by Bunting and Wagner with respect to the trials of the counts
Wagner - Separation from Bunting
Wagner sought an order that he be tried
separately from Bunting on all counts. Bunting did not make a
similar application. In essence, counsel for Wagner submitted that
in respect of a number of counts, evidence will be led of statements
by Bunting in the absence of Wagner that are not admissible against
Wagner, but are prejudicial to him. In particular, a number of the
statements by Bunting gave considerable detail of the murders and of
the involvement of Wagner in those murders which would not be given
in evidence against Wagner on a separate trial. As the case against
Wagner with respect to a number of charges relies upon the evidence
of Vlassakis that Bunting made statements amounting to admissions in
the presence of Wagner which were, by conduct or words, adopted by
Wagner, the critical issues will be whether the statements were made
in the presence of Wagner and whether he adopted those statements.
The prejudice will accumulate count by count as the jury hear
evidence of the statements by Bunting. Counsel contended that,
notwithstanding directions as to the proper use of evidence, it will
be impossible for a jury to ignore the statements by Bunting when
considering the critical issues.
It is difficult to predict with confidence the
content of the admissions that Vlassakis will say Bunting made in
the presence of Wagner which the Crown will ask the jury to infer
were adopted by Wagner. The interview of Vlassakis speaks in general
terms. It is unclear how much of the detail of each murder was
provided by Vlassakis to Bunting in the presence of Wagner or how
much was provided in the absence of Wagner. It is also unclear how
many of Bunting's statements in the absence of Wagner will be
admissible against Wagner because they were made in furtherance of a
joint enterprise between Bunting and Wagner. However, even assuming
that the bulk of the details were provided in the absence of Wagner
and that those statements are, therefore, inadmissible in the case
against Wagner, in my opinion the jury will be capable of
understanding that statements in the absence of Wagner are not to be
used against him. The existence of inadmissible statements by a co-offender
implicating an accused is not an uncommon problem in joint trials. I
see no reason to doubt that a jury would comply with the directions
as to the proper use of those statements.
It is the Crown case that Bunting and Wagner
commenced the relevant relationship in 1992 when Bunting killed
Trezise and enlisted the aid of Wagner and Lane in disposing of the
body. Thereafter, Bunting and Wagner both actively participated in
the killing of each deceased. In referring to both actively
participating, I include the circumstances of Johnson. It is the
Crown case that Wagner and Bunting together tortured Johnson and
that, while Wagner and Vlassakis were absent from the bank for the
purpose of using Johnson's credit card, Bunting killed Johnson. The
Crown also alleges that Bunting and Wagner acted jointly with
respect to the property and benefits of a number of deceased and
that property of a number of deceased was found at locations
associated with both Bunting and Wagner. Both were involved in
telling false stories. Both are linked to the bank and the
activities within the bank by the evidence of Vlassakis and the
Freemans together with forensic evidence such as DNA and
It is unnecessary to discuss the principles or
numerous authorities to which I was referred. In my opinion, the
nature of the case against Bunting and Wagner and the evidence
admissible against each of them provide a particularly strong basis
for proceeding by way of a joint trial. Separation is inappropriate.
For these reasons I refused the application by
Wagner that he be separated from Bunting.
Bunting and Wagner - Severance
Both Bunting and Wagner also sought orders for
severance of counts. It was argued that charges relating to the
deaths of Trezise, Davies, Allen and Trevilyan should not be joined
with the remaining counts which all involved bodies found in barrels.
Both counsel challenged the Crown position as to the cross-admissibility
of evidence relating to each count. In addition, counsel for Bunting
urged that the case with respect to Trezise is a significantly
different type of case from that with respect to other deceased. In
essence, the case depends entirely on alleged admissions by Bunting
to Tripp and Vlassakis. Counsel submitted that in a trial involving
all deceased it would be impossible for a jury to avoid a propensity
type reasoning rather than restricting their consideration to the
evidence of the admissions and matters affecting the reliability of
those admissions. A separate trial with respect to the deceased
Trezise would be a relatively straightforward trial of only a few
As to the charge relating to the death of Davies,
counsel for Bunting and Wagner argued that it should be severed from
all other charges or, in the alternative, should be tried with the
count relating to Allen. Both bodies were found in the hole at the
rear of Waterloo Corner Road. Both cases lack any evidence of the
involvement of Haydon. Both essentially involve admissions and
conduct with respect to the deceased or the deceased's property
after death. Both involve specific motives and a large amount of
evidence is devoted to conduct after death such as accessing the
Centrelink benefits being received by the deceased at the time of
Counsel for Bunting emphasised that the critical
issue with respect to the death of Allen is whether the evidence is
capable of proving that Allen was murdered. He suggested that
evidence relating to the other murders was incapable of disproving
the alternative hypothesis, namely, that there was death by natural
causes followed by macabre behaviour in dismembering the body. He
contended that the only way the evidence of other murders could be
used was to reason by propensity that it could not be death by
natural causes because Bunting and Wagner are killers. Alternatively,
counsel urged that I should sever the count relating to Allen
because a joint trial would require an analysis of evidence that
involves such a degree of finesse that it would be extremely
difficult for a jury to avoid being overwhelmed by the mass of
evidence on other stronger counts.
As to Trevilyan, the critical issues are whether
the death was a suicide and, if not, the reliability of the evidence
of Vlassakis that Bunting and Wagner made admissions to him. Counsel
for Bunting and Wagner submitted that it would be impossible for a
jury to avoid a propensity type reasoning rather than restricting
their considerations to the evidence directly bearing upon those
critical issues. A trial with respect to that matter would be
relatively short and straightforward.
Counsel for Wagner also argued that the cases
against Wagner were not strong. He emphasised the proposition that
the critical evidence by which the Crown sought to implicate both
Bunting and Wagner will be overwhelmed by highly prejudicial
evidence concerning the bodies in the barrels if these counts are
Associated with the applications for separation
and severance was an argument developed by counsel for Bunting based
upon the length and complexity of a trial involving all counts.
Relying upon the right of the accused to a fair trial and to a
verdict based upon the evidence properly considered by an impartial
jury, counsel contended that the accused would be deprived of that
right in a single trial of all counts by reason of the sheer size,
complexity and trauma of such a trial. It was said that the trial
would be of such length and complexity that its management could not
be assured to produce a fair trial. The jury would not have capacity
to cope with the vast volume of evidence and the complications
created by questions of use of evidence. Counsel referred to a risk
that members of the jury would resent the disruption to their lives
caused by such a long and complex trial and that such resentment
would be exacerbated by the trauma caused to members of the jury by
the nature of the evidence to be presented. The resentment and
trauma will create a substantial risk that the jury will not give
proper and impartial consideration to the evidence. Counsel
challenged the conventional wisdom that a single trial is the most
efficient and fair means of determining the guilt of the accused on
each charge. Reference was made to the relatively recent experiences
in Victoria with long and complex trials and to similar experiences
in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In
particular, reliance was placed upon American authorities supporting
the power of the trial judge to direct the Crown to proceed on a
reduced number of counts in order to ensure a manageable and fair
Some weeks after I had refused the applications
for separate trials and severance, Wagner requested that he be re-arraigned
on Counts 6 (Lane), 10 (Brooks) and 13 (Johnson). Upon re-arraignment
Wagner pleaded guilty to each of those counts. Following those pleas
of guilty, Bunting applied for a separate trial on all counts or,
alternatively, sought severance of his trial on those counts to
which Wagner had pleaded guilty. In essence, counsel submitted that
the jury was likely to infer from the pleas that Wagner admits the
main thrust of the Crown allegations that Wagner and Bunting
together killed Lane, Brooks and Johnson. It was said that
directions would be incapable of preventing this type of
The pleas by Wagner are not admissible against
Bunting. In my opinion, there is no reason to doubt that the jury
would be unwilling or incapable of understanding and complying with
appropriate directions as to the proper use and impermissible use of
the pleas of guilty by Wagner. The fact of the pleas adds little to
the case for separate trials.
Counsel for Bunting also raised the possibility
that a joint trial could result in a miscarriage of justice because
Wagner might not give evidence and will not, in a joint trial, be
compellable as a witness for Bunting. He agreed that if Wagner does
not give evidence, and subsequently in sentencing proceedings Wagner
advances a case that Bunting was not involved in the murders of Lane,
Brooks or Johnson or any of them, in a joint trial Bunting will have
been denied the benefit of calling Wagner to give evidence to that
effect. In these circumstances it was said that either a separate
trial should be granted or the sentencing proceedings for Wagner
should be invoked in order to ascertain Wagner's version with
respect to the three murders to which he has pleaded guilty.
In my opinion, given the relevance of the three
murders to which Wagner has pleaded guilty on the trial of the other
eight counts of murder to which he has pleaded not guilty, it is not
appropriate to embark upon any procedure which would have the effect
of requiring Wagner to disclose his version of the facts of the
murders to which he has pleaded guilty. To do so would effectively
undermine the privilege against self-incrimination. Counsel for
Wagner advised that his instructions did not permit him to disclose
any information except that torture of Brooks is denied and, in
respect of Johnson, a particular aspect that it is unnecessary to
identify is denied.
In every joint trial there is always the
possibility that an accused will not give evidence and that, in
subsequent sentencing proceedings, will advance a version that would
have assisted the defence of a co-accused. Whether such a
circumstance gives rise to a miscarriage of justice is a matter that
can only be determined when the events have occurred. In view of the
nature of the Crown case and the evidence the Crown proposes to lead,
in particular having regard to the evidence concerning the counts to
which Wagner has pleaded guilty, in my view it is unlikely that
Wagner will advance a version which exonerates Bunting from
involvement in any of the murders to which Wagner pleaded guilty.
In my opinion there is a compelling case for a
joint trial of all counts. The pleas by Wagner do not detract
significantly from that position. For these reasons I refused the
further applications by Bunting.
Following the refusal of Bunting's further
application, Wagner also applied for severance of particular counts.
In my view there is no substance in the reasons advanced by counsel
and it is unnecessary to discuss that application further.
As I have said, counsel for all accused disputed
the Crown position that there is cross-admissibility between the
counts. They submitted that as the evidence with respect to each
count discloses the commission of a crime, the test of admissibility
is that stated by the High Court in Pfennig v The Queen  HCA
7; (1995) 182 CLR 461. In a joint judgment, after identifying
propensity evidence as a special class of circumstantial evidence,
Mason CJ, Deane and Dawson JJ said (483):
"...[T]he trial judge must apply the same test
as a jury must apply in dealing with circumstantial evidence and
ask whether there is a rational view of the evidence that is
consistent with the innocence of the accused. Here 'rational' must
be taken to mean 'reasonable' and the trial judge must ask himself
or herself the question in the context of the prosecution case;
that is to say, he or she must regard the evidence as a step in
the proof of that case. Only if there is no such view can one
safely conclude that the probative force of the evidence outweighs
its prejudicial effect." (footnotes omitted)
Later in the judgment their Honours emphasised
that, as circumstantial evidence, propensity evidence should not be
used to draw an inference adverse to an accused unless it is the
only reasonable inference in the circumstances. They said (485):
"More than that, the evidence ought not to be
admitted if the trial judge concludes that, ... there is a
reasonable view of it which is consistent with innocence." (footnote
Pfennig was charged with murder. The High Court
was concerned with the admissibility of evidence that proved Pfennig
possessed a disposition to abduct young male persons for sexual
purposes. Evidence independent of Pfennig's disposition established
that the deceased had been abducted for sexual purposes. That fact
led to the conclusion that a person with such a disposition equipped
with the means of effecting the abduction was in the area at the
relevant time. In those circumstances, it was relevant to prove that
Pfennig was in the area at the relevant time, that he had the means
to effect the abduction and that he possessed the requisite
disposition. In other words, the Crown relied upon Pfennig's
disposition or propensity to commit a particular type of crime.
Evidence tending to prove that an accused person
has engaged in discreditable conduct or committed crimes may be
relevant for purposes other than proving that the accused has a
disposition to commit crime or to commit a particular type of crime.
An example found in numerous authorities is evidence of violence
perpetrated by an accused against the accused's spouse when the
accused is charged with murdering the spouse. The evidence is led
not as evidence of a propensity or disposition to commit violent
acts towards the spouse, but as evidence of the nature of the
relationship between the accused and the deceased. That relationship
bears directly on the question of guilt: Wilson v The Queen 
HCA 17; (1970) 123 CLR 334; R v Olasiuk (1973) 6 SASR 255; R v
Hissey (1973) 6 SASR 280.
Counsel for the accused submitted, however, that
following the decisions of the High Court in Hoch v The Queen 
HCA 50; (1988) 165 CLR 292 and Pfennig, the test laid down in
Pfennig applies to all evidence that discloses discreditable conduct
or the commission of crimes other than the crime charged. That
proposition was rejected by Olsson J in R v Peake (1996) 67 SASR 297
and by the South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal in R v
Nieterink  SASC 560; (1999) 76 SASR 56. In a judgment with
which Mullighan J agreed, Doyle CJ held in Nieterink that if the
evidence disclosing criminal conduct is relevant for a purpose other
than demonstrating that an accused has a propensity to commit the
crime charged or is likely to commit such a crime, the test
identified in Pfennig is not applicable. The Chief Justice referred
to Wilson, Olasiuk and Hissey and to authorities concerning
relationships between accused persons and alleged victims of sexual
assaults. His Honour identified that in cases involving sexual
offences against young persons, evidence of uncharged acts of
unsexual assault may be relevant for a number of reasons. Those
reasons include placing the charged acts in their context thereby
enabling the jury to understand that the first offence charged did
not "come out of the blue", explaining how a victim might come to
submit to the acts involved in the first charge, explaining why a
victim might not complain and establishing a sexual attraction on
the part of the accused towards the victim.
In R v Palaga  SASC 174; (2001) 80 SASR 19,
Doyle CJ adhered to the views he expressed in Nieterink. Nyland J
agreed with the Chief Justice. His Honour again adhered to those
views in R v Kostaras  SASC 326. Wicks and Besanko JJ agreed.
Palaga was not a "relationship" case. It was
concerned with the admissibility of the appellant's attempt to
produce cannabis through the propagation of cuttings as evidence of
guilt of taking part in the production of cannabis at another
premises. The evidence was not admitted for the purposes of
demonstrating that the appellant was the sort of person likely to be
involved in the growing of cannabis. Nor was the jury invited to
reason that the evidence demonstrated a pattern or type of behaviour
of a distinctive kind. The evidence was relevant to prove production
of plants from cuttings at a time when they might have been
transported to the other premises and to prove both knowledge of how
to produce cannabis plants and possession of the means to do so.
Doyle CJ held that the test of admissibility set out in Pfennig was
The decisions in Nieterink and Palaga were
delivered in December 1999 and June 2001. In April 2000, without
reference to Nieterink, the Full Court of the Federal Court
delivered judgment in Conway v R  FCA 461; (2000) 172 ALR 185.
The appellant was convicted of the murder of his estranged wife.
Evidence was admitted of the relationship between the appellant and
his wife. In particular, evidence was admitted from which the jury
was asked to infer that approximately a week before the death of the
deceased, the appellant had spiked the deceased's coffee with heroin.
The Crown argued that the spiking of the drink was part of a plan to
make it appear that the deceased was a heroin user so that her
subsequent death would appear to be due to a self-administered
On appeal, the appellant argued that the
admissibility of the evidence was governed by Pfennig because it was
"propensity" evidence. That submission was rejected by the Court.
The jury was not invited to reason that the appellant was, by reason
of his disposition, a person likely to have arranged the murder of
his wife. The jury were instructed that the evidence could only be
used as "relationship evidence" relevant to motive and as evidence
of an act preparatory to murder. In a joint judgment, Miles, von
Doussa and Weinberg JJ held that the test in Pfennig was
inapplicable. Their Honours said :
"The admissibility of 'relationship evidence'
turns upon its relevance to the issues in the trial. Such evidence
must satisfy the test that its prejudicial nature is outweighed by
its probative value. It is not required to satisfy the special
test formulated ultimately in Pfennig designed to deal with the
admissibility of what has traditionally been described as 'similar
fact evidence'. It must be remembered that Pfennig had nothing
whatever to do with 'relationship evidence'. None of the
authorities dealing with relationship evidence were referred to by
any members of the High Court, let alone disapproved. Pfennig
dealt with the special dangers inherent in propensity reasoning."
In August 2001, without reference to Nieterink,
Palaga or Conway, in R v Chevathen (2001) 122 A Crim R 441 the Court
of Appeal in Queensland took the same view of Pfennig. The
appellants had been convicted of the murder of a four year old child.
Evidence of prior violence against the child by both appellants was
admitted. On appeal it was argued that since Hoch and Pfennig all
evidence which reveals criminal propensity is inadmissible unless
there is no rational view of it consistent with the innocence of the
accused. After observing that the submission was premised on the
assumption that relationship evidence is regarded as a species of
propensity evidence, the Court said (449):
"We do not think that that is a correct
statement of the law. The question was addressed by McHugh J in
KRM. Plainly, 'relationship evidence', which is an incidental form
of propensity evidence, remains admissible although it could never
meet the test which is, according to the submission, necessary
before it could be admitted. Some latent ambiguities in Pfennig,
particularly in relation to the term "the evidence" were referred
to by this court in O'Keefe. At least some of the references in
Pfennig to 'the evidence' are references to the evidence as a
whole. There is no doubt that such a test is binding and
appropriate with respect to similar facts evidence and to evidence
tendered for the purpose of proving propensity. But it would in
our respectful view be absurd to apply the same test to evidence
which is admitted for other purposes, usually subsidiary but
nonetheless valid purposes, which can never satisfy so rigorous a
test." (footnotes omitted)
I am bound by the decisions of the South
Australian Court of Criminal Appeal in Nieterink and Palaga. I also
agree with those decisions and with the approach taken in Conway and
Chevathen. If the Crown seeks to lead evidence from which the jury
will be asked to infer that an accused had a propensity to commit
the crime of murder, the test of admissibility is that identified in
Pfennig. However, if the evidence of the commission of a crime or
crimes of murder is relevant for some other purpose, the Pfennig
test does not apply.
The precise use which the jury can properly make
of circumstances relating to one murder in connection with another
murder cannot be finally determined until all the evidence has been
given and the essential issues have been identified. Speaking
broadly, I am satisfied that the circumstances relating to each
murder are cross-admissible in respect of one or more other murders
for some or all of the purposes identified by the Crown and outlined
earlier in these reasons  under heads of admissibility numbered
(2)-(7). Not all counts are cross-admissible on the same basis. For
example, the circumstances relating to the murder of Trezise are
relevant to later offences because they identify the beginning of
the relevant relationship and the facts of Trezise are directly
relevant to the murder of Lane. The name "Happy Pants" (Trezise) was
also one of the names listed by Bunting to Youde shortly before the
murder of Youde. However, the facts of the offences subsequent to
the murder of Trezise do not appear to bear upon the principal
issues to be determined in connection with Trezise. The murder of
Lane is directly relevant to the issue of motive to murder Trevilyan,
but the facts associated with Trevilyan do not appear to be relevant
on any other count.
These are only examples of how different counts
may be cross-admissible for different purposes. Across all counts is
the nature of the relationship between the accused and the
relationship between Vlassakis and the accused.
In my opinion, given the nature of the case and
the evidence to be led in support of the Crown assertions, it would
be artificial and potentially misleading to sever any count. This is
a matter in which it is necessary for the jury to hear the full
story of all the events over a period of years. To apply a phrase
that has been used in the context of similar fact evidence, it would
be "an affront to common sense" to sever the counts and thereby to
present the jury with a fragmented and distorted picture.
The Crown also sought to justify cross-admissibility
of most counts on the basis of the improbability line of reasoning
identified earlier under head of admissibility numbered (1). In
particular, with respect to the death of Allen, the Crown submitted
that the improbability line of reasoning excludes as a reasonable
hypothesis the possibility that Allen died of natural causes. The
Crown referred to the following circumstances:
Allen's body was found buried in the backyard
of Waterloo Corner Road with the body of Davies, but above the body
The dismembered parts of the body were found in
garbage bags. At least one other body was temporarily stored in
Rope was found in two of the bags containing
parts of Allen's body. Ropes were found around the necks of the
bodies of Gardiner, Lane, Trevilyan, Youde and Elizabeth Haydon.
Vlassakis says that Bunting admitted that Porter and Johnson were
strangled with rope.
Allen's body had been dismembered. The bodies
of other deceased had been dismembered or mutilated.
Immediately after Allen's death, property was
collected from her house including paperwork and her car. A similar
pattern was followed in respect of other deceased.
A loose page in a book containing the writing
of Gardiner was found in the ceiling at Bundarra Court. That page
contained the personal details of Allen in the handwriting of
Bunting. Like pieces of paper were found in connection with Porter,
O'Dwyer, Brooks and Johnson. Vlassakis says that personal details
were extracted from victims of murders for the purposes of accessing
the accounts and benefits of the victims. After the death of Allen,
Bunting arranged for Harvey and Elliott to impersonate Allen in
order to convince authorities that she was alive. False stories were
told to convey the impression that Allen was alive. Bunting accessed
the benefits of Allen from late 1996 through to 1999. The benefits
of other deceased were accessed. False stories were told about other
deceased being alive.
Against that background, the Crown submitted that
a jury would be entitled to reason that it is inherently improbable
that Allen died of natural causes when, in the same or similar
circumstances, the accused murdered other persons. That line of
reasoning presupposes that the jury is first satisfied that Bunting
and Wagner committed other murders which were accompanied by the
relevant features. It was argued that such an underlying unity
exists between Allen's death and the proven murders that it excludes
as a reasonable hypothesis death by natural causes. I am inclined to
agree with the Crown submission.
The Crown also submitted that the same line of
reasoning is applicable to the death of Trevilyan for the purpose of
rebutting the hypothesis of suicide. However, the death of Trevilyan
was not accompanied by features which establish an underlying unity
between that death and other proven murders. In these circumstances,
in my view the improbability line of reasoning is inapplicable in
respect of the death of Trevilyan. However, for the reasons I have
given, I am satisfied that other aspects of cross-admissibility
exist and that it would be inappropriate to sever the trial of the
count relating to Trevilyan.
During the course of submissions concerning
severance, and particularly in connection with the counts relating
to Allen and Trevilyan, discussion occurred as to the possibility
that the Crown would be asking the jury to reason from the
commission of a number of crimes of murder that Bunting and Wagner
were in the business of killing people. Features such as possession
of property and accessing of Centrelink benefits were features
associated with that business. In other words, the accused had a
propensity to kill in particular circumstances and the existence of
those circumstances in connection with the death of a particular
deceased is probative of the fact of murder and of the identity of
the accused as the offenders.
As presently advised, I am minded to the view
that cross-admissibility is also justified on the basis of
propensity reasoning, at least in respect of Allen. However, it is
unnecessary for me to finally determine this issue at this stage of
the trial. Cross-admissibility exists on grounds other than proof of
propensity to murder.
In these circumstances I reached the view that
all counts against Bunting and Wagner should be tried in a single
trial. In arriving at this conclusion, I have not overlooked the
points made by counsel for Bunting about the length and complexity
of a single trial and the difficulties thereby created. It is
unnecessary to explore the power of the Court to direct that the
Crown proceed on a reduced number of counts in order to ensure a
manageable and fair trial. The Court possesses all the powers
necessary to ensure that the trial is fair. I am satisfied that the
length and complexity of a single trial of Bunting and Wagner on all
counts will not be such as to place in jeopardy the right of either
accused to a fair trial. I do not underestimate the difficulties
associated with a single trial, particularly in view of the nature
of the evidence to be led, but in my opinion the length and
complexity is not such that there is a risk that a jury will be
unable or unwilling to apply the directions and to give appropriate
and impartial consideration to the evidence.
Haydon - Separation from Bunting and Wagner
Counsel for Haydon submitted that the trial of
Haydon with respect to the deaths of Youde and Elizabeth Haydon
should be separated from the trial of Bunting and Wagner. In essence,
she contended that the volume and nature of the evidence relating to
Bunting and Wagner would be such as to make a fair trial for Haydon
impossible. The Crown argued, however, that as Haydon is jointly
charged with Bunting and Wagner with the murders of Youde and
Elizabeth Haydon, it is appropriate that he be tried with those
accused. The Crown submitted that there is no basis for doubting
that a jury would be able to isolate the evidence admissible against
Haydon and to put aside the inadmissible material.
The Crown initially submitted that the counts
against Haydon concerning the deaths of Youde and Elizabeth Haydon
are cross-admissible against each other. After further discussion,
however, in essence the Crown conceded that the Elizabeth Haydon
count was not admissible in respect of Youde. The Crown maintained
that the knowledge gained by Haydon from his presence at the murder
of Youde is admissible in respect of Elizabeth Haydon. The Crown
also argued that much of the evidence to be led in the trial of
Bunting and Wagner would be admissible against Haydon in respect of
the counts relating to Youde and Elizabeth Haydon. In these
circumstances, the Crown urged that it is inappropriate to direct
that Haydon be tried separately from Bunting and Wagner.
In the remarks that follow I have endeavoured to
identify, in general terms, the categories of evidence that the
Crown argued would be relevant on the trial of Haydon with respect
to the murders of Youde and Elizabeth Haydon. I have also
endeavoured to identify the basis of relevance advanced by the Crown.
The murder of Trezise is linked to the murders of
Youde and Elizabeth Haydon. Vlassakis says that the murder of "Happy
Pants" (Trezise) was one of the murders nominated by Bunting when he
listed the names of a number of victims to Youde during the torture
of Youde. Names of other deceased were also mentioned. Haydon
repeated some of the names. The Crown submitted that Haydon's
conduct demonstrates that he was aware that Bunting had murdered the
A connection between Trezise and Elizabeth Haydon
is found in the evidence of Vlassakis that he overheard Haydon
telling Bunting that he, Haydon, had told Elizabeth Haydon of that
murder. That statement by Haydon demonstrates a knowledge on his
part of the murder of Trezise. In addition, it is capable of
providing a basis for an inference as to motive to kill Elizabeth
The Crown also sought to establish that, prior to
the murder of Youde, Haydon had knowledge that Bunting and Wagner
had murdered Lane. Vlassakis says that Haydon was present for
conversations about Lane's murder. He recalls a conversation when
Bunting and Wagner told Vlassakis and Haydon about wrapping Lane's
body in a carpet. The timing of this conversation is unclear. Lane's
Christian name was one of those mentioned by Bunting to Youde
shortly before the murder of Youde.
Counsel for Haydon submitted that the evidence is
incapable of establishing that at the time of the murder of Youde,
Haydon had knowledge that Bunting and Wagner had committed any
murder other than that of Trezise. In particular, counsel argued
that the positive statements by Vlassakis that Haydon had no
knowledge of a number of murders cannot be displaced by the general
statements of Vlassakis that Haydon was present at conversations
when murders were discussed.
As I have said, the timing of the conversation
about wrapping Lane's body in a carpet is uncertain. However,
Vlassakis also says that Bunting used to brag about different
murders "all the time" in front of Vlassakis, Wagner and Haydon. In
addition, according to Vlassakis, the Christian names of Davies,
Gardiner and Porter were listed by Haydon to Youde at the same time
as the mention of Happy Pants and Lane.
In my opinion, on a provisional assessment of the
evidence to be led, the evidence is capable of supporting an
inference that, at the time of the murder of Youde, Haydon had
knowledge that Bunting had murdered Trezise and other persons and
that Wagner had been involved with Bunting in murders. The
involvement of Haydon soon after the murder of Youde in the storage
of bodies and in the subsequent movement of bodies, when considered
in conjunction with the other evidence, is also capable of tending
to confirm this view.
On the assumption that the evidence is capable of
supporting a finding that, at the time of the murder of Youde,
Haydon was aware that Bunting and Wagner had committed one or more
murders, counsel for Haydon submitted that such knowledge is not
admissible upon charges of murdering Youde and Elizabeth Haydon. I
do not agree.
As to Youde, Vlassakis says that Haydon
participated in the initial violence against Youde, but was a
spectator during the torture and murder. Haydon's knowledge bears
directly upon his state of mind at the time of the beating, torture
and murder of Youde. At the least, Haydon's knowledge is relevant to
whether, at the time he assisted in beating Youde, Haydon
contemplated the possibility that Bunting and Wagner would kill
As to the murder of Elizabeth Haydon, if a
finding is made that Elizabeth Haydon was murdered during the
absence of Haydon and Elliott, the critical issue is whether Haydon
was a party to removing Elliott from the premises for the purpose of
enabling Bunting and Wagner to kill Elizabeth Haydon in Elliott's
absence. The Crown submitted that the false statement by Haydon
later that evening to Elliott that Elizabeth Haydon was at the
premises is, in the circumstances, probative of Haydon's complicity
as are false stories subsequently given by Haydon to the police and
In my view, Haydon's knowledge that he had left
Elizabeth Haydon in the company of persons who had murdered Youde,
Trezise and others, places in proper context the false statements
made by Haydon to Elliott and other persons. In the circumstances,
false statements made in ignorance of prior murders committed by
Bunting and Wagner would bear a significantly different complexion
from false statements made with knowledge of prior murders. A jury
would be entitled to reason that, possessing knowledge of prior
murders by Bunting and Wagner, Haydon's conduct in immediately
telling a false story to Elliott about the presence of Elizabeth
Haydon is inconsistent with the view that he was not party to a plan
to kill Elizabeth Haydon but merely discovered her absence on his
return home with Elliott. A jury could conclude that Haydon's
knowledge excludes the possibility that Haydon decided to tell a
false story about the presence of Elizabeth Haydon for some reason
other than complicity in her murder.
The Crown pointed to an additional relevance
attaching to Haydon's knowledge of prior murders. The Crown
contended that the nature of the relationship between Haydon and
Bunting is of particular significance. The relationship was such
that Haydon was trusted with knowledge of murders. Knowledge of the
nature of the relationship is necessary to place the events with
respect to Youde in their proper context. That relationship explains
what otherwise might appear to be unlikely, namely, that Bunting
would beat, torture and murder Youde in the presence of Haydon.
Similarly, the nature of the relationship is relevant to whether
Bunting and Wagner would be likely to kill Elizabeth Haydon during
the temporary absence of Haydon from the premises if Haydon was not
party to that murder.
In my opinion, the relationship between Haydon
and Bunting is relevant for the reasons advanced by the Crown.
Haydon's knowledge of prior murders bears directly upon that
The issues to which evidence of Haydon's
knowledge of prior murders are addressed are not peripheral issues.
The evidence is highly probative with respect to issues which are
highly probative of the ultimate fact in issue, namely, whether
Haydon was implicated in the murders of Youde and Elizabeth Haydon.
Leaving aside knowledge gained from presence at the murder of Youde,
the evidence of knowledge of murders comprises statements made in
the presence of Haydon coupled with his conduct in both accessing
the benefits of Porter and assisting in the storage and movement of
bodies. That evidence is prejudicial to Haydon. However, in my
opinion the evidence is highly probative on each count. As presently
advised, I would not exclude that evidence in the exercise of my
Haydon's presence at the murder of Youde raises
additional considerations. In my opinion, the evidence of Haydon's
presence at that murder or implication in it is not admissible on
the charge of murdering Elizabeth Haydon for the purpose of proving
that Haydon was or was likely to be involved in the murder of
Elizabeth Haydon. Such a use would involve propensity reasoning in
circumstances where such reasoning lacks the required degree of
probative value. Haydon's presence at Youde's murder is admissible
only for the purpose of demonstrating that, from first-hand
experience, Haydon gained knowledge that Bunting and Wagner were
willing to engage in beating, torture and murder. Knowledge from
such firsthand experience is highly probative, but the evidence
carries with it the potential for prejudice by reason of the risk of
impermissible reasoning by propensity.
On a joint trial with the other accused, all the
evidence would be led. Strong directions would be required as to the
proper use of the evidence. If Haydon is granted a trial separate
from the trial of Bunting and Wagner, should an application be made
these considerations would be relevant to whether the charges with
respect to Youde and Elizabeth Haydon should be severed from each
other. For reasons which will become apparent, it is unnecessary for
me to decide this issue.
The Crown submitted that even if Haydon is
granted a separate trial, a considerable quantity of evidence that
would be led on a joint trial will be admissible on the separate
trial. For example, the Crown referred to evidence concerning
Haydon's presence at discussions of murders and during anti-paedophile
conversations, together with evidence of his attitude to homosexuals
and paedophiles. Similarly, evidence concerning his conduct after
the murders of Youde and Haydon would be admissible on a separate
trial. By way of categories, the admissible conduct includes the
Accessing the accounts of Porter and Brooks.
Possession of property of any victim.
Telling of false stories about victims and
presence when false stories were told by others.
Storage of bodies at Blackham Crescent.
Removal of property, including bodies, from
Blackham Crescent following police inquiries into the disappearance
of Elizabeth Haydon.
Connection to the bank premises including
possession of keys to vault and handcuffs, renting the premises,
attendances described by Vlassakis and forensic evidence.
The Crown submitted that these categories of
evidence speak volumes as to the nature of the relationship between
Haydon and Bunting and, for the reasons already discussed, the
evidence is highly probative and admissible against Haydon. Some of
the evidence is also relevant to motive.
These propositions are disputed by counsel for
Haydon. Counsel also suggested that the Crown's interpretation of
the evidence is rebutted by other evidence and that much of the
evidence is equivocal.
Counsel for Haydon did not dispute the
proposition that the finding of the bodies of Youde and Elizabeth
Haydon in barrels at the bank is admissible. However, at times her
submissions carried the implication that other conduct of Haydon
after the deaths was necessarily lacking in relevance because it
occurred after the deaths. In my opinion, that suggestion is not
supported in principle or in logic. Speaking generally, if evidence
of conduct after the commission of a crime possesses the necessary
probative value, subject to any exclusionary rule such evidence is
admissible. The purpose for which it is sought to lead the evidence
must be assessed in the context of the totality of the evidence and
the live issues at trial. There is no difference in principle
between conduct occurring before or after the crime.
Some of the evidence which the Crown would seek
to lead against Haydon discloses discreditable conduct and the
commission of other offences. The Crown does not seek to lead this
evidence as evidence of a propensity to commit murder or any other
crime, but as evidence relevant for other reasons. In those
circumstances, as I have indicated earlier in these reasons, in my
opinion the test enunciated by the High Court in Pfennig is not the
appropriate test. However, for reasons that will become apparent, it
is unnecessary for me to determine whether the categories or
individual pieces of evidence are admissible against Haydon in
respect of one or both of the counts of murder and, if admissible,
whether there are grounds upon which the evidence should be excluded
in the exercise of the discretion. On the assumption that the Crown
would be entitled to lead all or most of the evidence to which I
have referred, and assuming that the evidence concerning Haydon's
presence at the murder of Youde is admissible in respect of
Elizabeth Haydon, it is apparent that virtually all of that evidence
will be led in the trial of Bunting and Wagner.
Against that background, the Crown relied on the
public policy considerations that weigh heavily in favour of a joint
trial. As King CJ pointed out in R v Glover (1987) 46 SASR 310,
generally speaking where accused persons are charged jointly with
offences it is highly desirable in the interests of justice that
they should be tried together. His Honour said (312):
"It is, generally speaking, very unsatisfactory
for jurors to have to attempt to arrive at the truth of a matter
when only one of the persons alleged to have participated in the
criminal conduct is before them. In order to arrive at the truth
of the matter it is generally highly desirable that the jury
should have before it the respective accounts and explanations
which are given by all the alleged criminal participants in the
incident. There are cases, of course, in which that important
consideration has to give way to other considerations. There may
be circumstances surrounding the case for the prosecution which
would be so prejudicial to a particular accused that a separate
trial is imperative, but, generally speaking, participants in the
same incident alleged to have been of a criminal nature, or to
have resulted in or have included the commission of criminal
offences, ought to be tried together."
King CJ repeated those remarks in R v Collie,
Kranz and Lovegrove  SASC 2996; (1991) 56 SASR 302 at 309. His
Honour also cited the following passage from R v Demirok  VR
244 at 254:
"The matters of public interest which must be
considered in this case, and in all such cases, may be summarised
as follows. In the first place, there is the question of the
administrative matters of court time spent and public expense
incurred if more than one trial is to be conducted. These matters
will in many cases not be of very great weight, in others they may
assume real significance. Secondly, it is against the interests of
justice that there should be inconsistent verdicts, and those
interests require that where the accounts of accused persons
differ or conflict their differences should be resolved by the
same jury at the same trial. Thirdly, and allied with the first
two considerations, it has always been the policy of the law to
reach finality as expeditiously as possible; and no system could
function if it permitted the repeated retrial of the same issues
except in situations where the concept of justice so required.
Fourthly, the convenience of witnesses must be considered. The lot
of a witness in a criminal trial is not a happy one, and unless
for good reason witnesses should not be required to give evidence
of the same events at a succession of trials."
The Crown properly highlighted the inconvenience
and trauma to witnesses. Some of the witnesses were closely
associated with the accused. This matter has attracted exceptional
publicity. In view of the estimated length of the trial with respect
to Bunting and Wagner, it is unlikely that a separate trial of
Haydon would occur until mid 2003 or later. Counsel suggested that a
delay of that nature in the particular circumstances of this matter
would give rise to a real risk to the Crown's ability to continue to
secure the co-operation of critical witnesses and to properly
present its case.
As to public expense, counsel for Haydon
suggested that a separate trial with respect to Haydon on both
counts would probably take approximately four weeks. The Crown
disputed this estimate. My assessment is that a trial involving
Bunting and Wagner is likely to be significantly shorter and less
complicated if Haydon is granted a separate trial. I also anticipate
that a trial of Haydon on two counts would take a matter of weeks
rather than months. Of course, if Haydon is granted a separate trial,
it would be a matter for the future trial judge whether the two
counts are heard together.
As King CJ recognised in Glover and Collie, there
may be circumstances involved in the case for the prosecution which
would be so prejudicial to a particular accused that a separate
trial is imperative. This does not mean that the mere existence in a
joint trial of material inadmissible against an accused and
prejudicial to that accused necessarily justifies separate trials.
The existence of such material is common in joint trials.
The capacity of a jury to understand and apply
directions as to the use of evidence and as to permissible and
impermissible lines of reasoning should not be underestimated.
Experience and the limited research available demonstrate that
juries take their responsibilities very seriously and readily
appreciate the critical importance of not misusing evidence and of
not engaging in impermissible lines of reasoning. However, the
matter under consideration is quite exceptional in many respects.
Just as the capacities of a jury should not be underestimated, nor
should the difficulties that a jury would face in a joint trial of
the three accused be underestimated.
Even if the Crown was permitted to lead all the
evidence that the Crown argued is admissible against Haydon on two
counts of murder, in a joint trial the jury would be faced with a
large volume of evidence relating to ten other murders which would
not be admissible against Haydon. That evidence includes gruesome
details of some of the murders including torture, methods of killing
and dismemberment of bodies. Notwithstanding that evidence in
connection with Youde would involve evidence of torture and
dismemberment, the impact of the volume of gruesome evidence not
admissible against Haydon must be carefully considered.
The Crown will lead evidence against Bunting and
Wagner designed to establish that they were in the business of
killing and of reaping financial rewards from the murders. As I have
indicated, I am tentatively of the view that the Crown will be
entitled to invite the jury to reason by way of propensity to kill
in respect of Bunting and Wagner. However, that line of reasoning is
not available in the case against Haydon. The difficulty for a jury
of isolating that line of reasoning and limiting it to Bunting and
Wagner would be exacerbated by the fact that the jury would be
invited to find that Haydon was trusted with knowledge of murders,
was involved in committing two murders with Bunting and Wagner, was
involved in the movement and storage of bodies and was involved in
the activities at the bank. The difficulty of avoiding reasoning to
guilt by association or propensity is obvious.
There is a further feature that is to be
considered in conjunction with the matters to which I have referred.
It concerns the evidence of Vlassakis. His evidence is critical in
the case against Haydon with respect to the murder of Youde.
Vlassakis has admitted committing four crimes of murder. He sought
to use his co-operation with the authorities as a factor in
mitigation of penalty. He has admitted knowledge of all murders and
admitted engaging in numerous frauds and deceptions in respect of a
number of deceased. The credit of Vlassakis is critical in the cases
against all accused. An accomplice warning and corroboration
directions will be necessary.
The evidence of Vlassakis implicating Bunting and
Wagner in all of the murders is supported in a number of respects.
It is unnecessary for present purposes to canvass the details of the
support with respect to each count. Nor is it necessary to identify
how much of that supporting evidence amounts to corroboration. It is
sufficient to observe that there is a considerable volume of
evidence which, if accepted, provides corroboration and general
support for significant parts of the evidence that Vlassakis will
give against Bunting and Wagner. In this context it is to be
remembered that Vlassakis is giving evidence concerning twelve
murders and associated events occurring over a period of
approximately seven years.
By way of contrast, the evidence of Vlassakis
against Haydon in respect of the murders of Youde and Elizabeth
Haydon is in a much narrower compass. There is evidence capable of
providing support for the evidence of Vlassakis against Haydon in
respect of matters such as Haydon accessing the Centrelink benefits
of Porter and Brooks and being involved in the movement and storage
of bodies. However, in respect of the critical evidence of Vlassakis
concerning the presence of Haydon at the time of the murder of Youde
and as to Haydon's involvement in the beating of Youde, there is no
direct evidence independent of Vlassakis to support his version.
The Crown argued that the evidence independent of
Vlassakis which supports his evidence with respect to Haydon
accessing Centrelink benefits and being involved in the movement and
storage of bodies amounts in law to corroboration of the evidence by
Vlassakis that Haydon was present at the time of the murder and was
involved in the beating of Youde. In other words, it is said by the
Crown that the accessing of Centrelink benefits and involvement in
the movement and storage of bodies are material facts implicating
Haydon in the commission of the crime. Not surprisingly, counsel for
Haydon argued that these facts are too removed from the critical
questions for these purposes.
In Doney v The Queen  HCA 51; (1990) 171
CLR 207, in a joint judgment the High Court said (211):
"The essence of corroborative evidence is that
it 'confirms', 'supports' or 'strengthens' other evidence in the
sense that it 'renders [that] other evidence more probable': R v
Kilbourne, per Lord Simon of Glaisdale. It must do that by
connecting or tending to connect the accused with the crime
charged in the sense that, where corroboration of the evidence of
an accomplice is involved, it 'shows or tends to show that the
story of the accomplice that the accused committed the crime is
true, not merely that the crime has been committed, but that it
was committed by the accused': R v Baskerville." (footnotes
After confirming that corroboration may be in the
form of circumstantial evidence, their Honours said:
"It is not necessary that corroborative
evidence, standing alone, should establish any proposition beyond
reasonable doubt. In the case of an accomplice's evidence, it is
sufficient if it strengthens that evidence by confirming or
tending to confirm the accused's involvement in the events as
related by the accomplice: see Baskerville; R v Hester." (footnotes
In my opinion, there is force in the Crown
contention. However, it is pertinent to note that although Haydon
accessed the benefits of Brooks, there is no evidence that he was
involved in the murder of Brooks. Similarly, while on the Crown case
Haydon was involved in the movement and storage of the bodies of the
deceased, the evidence does not implicate him in the murder of six
of those deceased.
Decisions as to whether evidence is capable of
amounting to corroboration usually arise at the conclusion of the
evidence. There are obvious difficulties in attempting to predict
this far in advance whether the evidence identified by the Crown
will amount to corroboration of evidence Vlassakis gives implicating
Haydon in the murder of Youde. Notwithstanding corroboration of
Vlassakis with respect to Haydon accessing Centrelink benefits and
being involved in the movement and storage of bodies, the critical
evidence of Vlassakis that Haydon was present at the murder of Youde
stands alone. Even if the evidence of Vlassakis is corroborated in
other respects, at the least it will be necessary for the jury to be
given a strong warning that the evidence of Vlassakis should be
approached with special caution.
In a joint trial, the credibility and reliability
of Vlassakis would be of critical importance in the case against
each accused. The jury would be required to consider the credibility
of his evidence against Bunting and Wagner. For that purpose the
jury would be entitled to take into account the considerable volume
of evidence that supports the account that Vlassakis gives against
Bunting and Wagner. However, the vast bulk of that supporting
evidence is not admissible against Haydon. The evidence inadmissible
against Haydon that supports the credibility of the version given by
Vlassakis against Bunting and Wagner cannot be used to support the
credibility of the evidence that Vlassakis gives against Haydon.
These circumstances give rise to a potential
difficulty for a jury on a joint trial. If, based on evidence
inadmissible against Haydon but supporting the account of Vlassakis
against Bunting and Wagner, the jury find that Vlassakis is a
credible witness against Bunting and Wagner, the jury would be
required to set aside and ignore that view of the credibility of
Vlassakis when considering the credibility of his evidence against
Haydon. The jury would be required to consider afresh the
credibility of evidence given by Vlassakis against Haydon by
reference only to that evidence and to other evidence admissible
against Haydon that supports the version given by Vlassakis against
The difficulty to which I have alluded was the
subject of consideration in R v Demirok  VR 244, R v Gibb and
McKenzie  2 VR 155 and R v Jones (1991) 55 A Crim R 159. In
each instance, the evidence of a critical witness was supported by
evidence inadmissible against the appellants. The Courts recognised
that the credibility of the witness having been enhanced by
inadmissible evidence, in the particular circumstances there was a
real danger that the jury would find it impossible to approach the
evidence of that witness against the appellant unaffected by the
views already formed of the credit of the witness. In Jones, Crocket
J highlighted the "unreal" and "contrived" nature of the direction
that would be required.
As the Court in Demirok observed, the existence
of this difficulty does not necessarily mean that separate trials
should be ordered. It is standard practice to inform juries of their
right to accept part of the evidence of a witness and to reject
other parts. It will not be uncommon for the evidence of an
accomplice to be corroborated with respect to one accused and not
another. In many cases the Court can be confident that the jury will
follow appropriate directions and the public interest factors
favouring a joint trial will prevail.
The matter under consideration is quite
exceptional. I have already referred to the horrific nature and
volume of evidence inadmissible against Haydon that would be led
against Bunting and Wagner on a joint trial. As I have indicated,
the evidence of Vlassakis is not confined to a single incident or a
relatively short period of time. It covers a period of approximately
seven years and deals with twelve murders and associated events.
Propensity reasoning might be applicable to Bunting and Wagner, but
not to Haydon. In the particular circumstances, it would be
extraordinarily difficult if not impossible for a jury to ignore the
enhancement of the credit of Vlassakis through evidence inadmissible
against Haydon when considering the credibility of the version given
by Vlassakis that Haydon was present at the murder of Youde and
participated in the beating of Youde.
Not without considerable hesitation I have
concluded that the trial of Haydon with respect to the charges of
murdering Youde and Elizabeth Haydon should be separated from the
trial of Bunting and Wagner. The combination of factors to which I
have referred, coupled with the complexity of the directions that
would be required in a joint trial, have persuaded me that there is
a grave risk that Haydon would not receive a fair trial if jointly
tried with Bunting and Wagner. I doubt that the separation of the
trials will add greatly to the public expense, but I am acutely
conscious of the problems created for witnesses. However, I have
been driven to the conclusion that the interests of justice require
the separation of the trials.
In these circumstances it is unnecessary for me
to address the suggestion that in a joint trial Haydon may seek to
elicit evidence of Bunting's violent disposition which would be
inadmissible as part of the Crown case. Similarly, it is unnecessary
for me to determine whether a single trial of the Youde and
Elizabeth Haydon counts is permissible and, if it is, whether
separate trials of those counts should be ordered. Those questions
and other issues to which I have referred are best left for
determination by the trial judge.
For these reasons I ordered that the trial of
Haydon upon the charges of murdering Youde and Elizabeth Haydon be
separated from the trial of Bunting and Wagner.