Supreme court trial begins

A BENDIGO baby was struck at least 25 times to the head and killed with a home-made baton during a burglary at his Long Gully home, the Victorian Supreme Court has heard.

Harley Hicks, 21, has been charged with the murder of Zayden Veal-Whitting, who was found lying in a pool of blood by his mother Casey Veal in her Eaglehawk Road home in June, 2012.

Hicks has been charged with one count of murder, aggravated burglary and three counts of theft.

In her opening address, Crown prosecutor Michele Williams SC told the court the Crown would show Hicks as “a burglar, a thief, a liar and a killer – and that’s what we set out to prove beyond reasonable doubt’’.

“It will become clear that we say he entered that house and killed the baby inside the house,’’ she said.

“Let me put in bluntly to you - he bashed that child to death with sufficient force to cause those very serious injuries.

“Why? We may not be able to answer the why.

“Did the baby stir? I don't know. I can't tell you that.’’

Ms Williams told the court Hicks committed a number of burglaries and thefts in close proximity to the Eaglehawk Road house on the night of the baby’s death.

She said the Crown would say Zayden’s home was one of those burgled by Hicks on that night, where he stole two wallets and almost $2000 cash, and it was “there we allege that he kills Zayden’’.

Ms Williams said Hicks admitted to police he had broken into cars and houses in the area on the night of June 14 and 15.

She told the court Hicks was seen leaving his home in Green Street about 11.30pm on June 14 with a bag, and the court would be told he was also carrying a baton, which the crown alleged was the murder weapon.

The court was told the baton was made up of copper wires and wrapped in electrical tape.

Ms Williams said one half of the baton was later found to carry DNA consistent with Zayden's profile and the other half had DNA consistent with that of Hicks.

She said several items stolen from properties, including Zayden’s home, were also found to have DNA consistent with Zayden and Hicks.

Ms Williams said evidence given to the court would be based around DNA, the proximity of the burglaries on the night and the manner in which the items were stolen.

“What we will be ultimately saying to you is that this is one and the same person that committed these, one and the same person, because of various features,’’ she said.

“So what we're saying is you can use that evidence, that is the evidence of the other burglaries, to prove that it's one and the same person who committed the burglary and …  places him at the burglary at Eaglehawk Road and therefore places him at the scene and therefore we say it's a step in proof that he killed the baby.’’

Ms Williams said many witnesses would be called during the trial to give evidence about Hicks' movements on and around the day of Zayden's death.

She said the court would also hear that Hicks had given false information to police about having an accomplice on the night of the burglaries, that "was a pack of lies designed to protect himself - designed to put up a false killer''.

Defence counsel David Hallowes will give his opening address Wednesday morning.

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