Defence questions search

Detective says initial focus was on stolen goods

THE defence counsel of the man accused of murdering Long Gully baby Zayden Veal-Whitting has questioned how thoroughly police searched for a murder weapon.

Zayden was found bludgeoned to death and laying in a pool of blood by his mother on June 15, 2012.

Harley Hicks, 21, of Long Gully, has pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated burglary and theft.

The Crown alleges Hicks committed a series of burglaries in and around Zayden's Eaglehawk Road home overnight on June 14/15, and killed the child.

The Supreme Court jury has been shown the police record of interview with Hicks.

At that stage we were not aware of what, or if, any weapon had been used. - Detective Senior Constable Tom Harper

Hicks claimed he was out stealing from cars on the night of the child's death, to get money to buy methamphetamine and to support his girlfriend, who was 20 weeks pregnant.

He said he was out with a friend Aiden Kirby - but has since signed a document admitting he lied about Aiden being there that night. Kirby has testified he did not see Hicks that day.

Detective Senior Constable Tom Harper gave evidence about the investigations into a series of burglaries in the area that night.

He said when police searched Hicks' Green Street address, it was "quite messy and cluttered'' with bags and belongings everywhere.

Detective Senior Constable Harper told the court police initially searched the house for stolen goods connected to burglaries reported.

The list of items included an X-box, phones, a set top box taken from across the road from the back of the house where Zayden was killed, and a wallet belonging to Zayden's stepfather, Mathew Tisell.

When defence counsel David Hallowes put to Detective Senior Constable Harper whether at the time of the first search there was "a possibility ... that the person or persons who committed the offence at Jackson Street where the set top box was taken, might have committed the burglary at Eaglehawk Road?'' he agreed, there was.

But he said "the most we knew at that stage was a suggestion of blunt trauma, which could have been a fist, could have been a kick, could have been a weapon - I think at that stage that's as much as we, as the local detectives, knew''.  

 "At that stage we were not aware of what, or if, any weapon had been used ... and I'm not sure that even the homicide squad knew, but we were certainly not aware of any particular type of weapon, or not alerted as to what to be looking for when it came to a weapon, if there was any weapon at that stage,''' he said.

However, he said it was not uncommon for police to seize items such as machetes and knives, but a device similar to the home-bade baton shown to the court would not always be considered a prescribed weapon.

"I don't recall seeing that item, but if that item was seen by another member it is quite possible that it may not be seized - that is a common item, or not a common item, but we see similar items in certain houses that people have at their disposal for self defence,'' he said.

He said despite the baton not being found during the initial search, the property was searched thoroughly taking into account the brief. "We were looking for property from other burglaries that had occurred that night,'' he said.

The trial continues.


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