Skate park incident emerges in Long Gully murder case, but detectives say it's unrelated

Kate Stone has been charged with the murder of Darren Auditori Reid, who suffered fatal burn injuries in Long Gully last year.
Kate Stone has been charged with the murder of Darren Auditori Reid, who suffered fatal burn injuries in Long Gully last year.

A WOMAN charged with murdering a man in Long Gully claims three other men were responsible for the crime, which she alleges was retaliation for an incident in a nearby skate park three weeks earlier.

Kate Stone, 39, appeared at a special mention in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday charged with murdering her partner Darren Auditori Reid.

Mr Reid suffered burn injuries in the house on Derwent Drive, Long Gully, on December 18. He died two days later.

Stone’s defence counsel Robert Davis attempted to have another man, Benjamin Thatcher, added to the witness list for a contested committal hearing set for November 27.

Stone claims Mr Thatcher was involved in an altercation with Mr Reid at a skate park in Bendigo on November 27, 2016.

Several hours later, Mr Thatcher went to Stone’s house in Long Gully to speak with Mr Reid about the incident.

Mr Thatcher told police their “discussion” moved to the back veranda, and he armed himself with a piece of wood when Mr Reid came out to confront him.

Mr Reid went back into the house and Mr Thatcher left the scene.

Stone claims two other men attended her house on December 18, which she alleges was at the direction of Mr Thatcher. Mr Thatcher was in custody for unrelated offences at the time of the alleged murder, the court was told.

Stone incorrectly identified Mr Thatcher as being at the scene of the alleged murder.

Mr Davis, her defence counsel, said Stone claimed Mr Thatcher was involved in the murder despite not being present.

“The inference is that this was the motivation for the three gentlemen to in fact set the deceased man alight,” he said.

“There was a two-week gap between Mr Thatcher attending the premises, on November 27, and him being taken into custody, on December 13. There was time for him to have interactions with the other two gentlemen being nominated as perpetrators.”

Mr Davis said Mr Thatcher knew the two men who were allegedly at the scene when Mr Reid was killed – one of the men was dating Mr Thatcher’s sister.

“They’re mixing in the same circles,” Mr Davis said.

Mr Thatcher underwent a lengthy examination by police in relation to the incidents.

Police prosecutor James Baker said the skate park incident was not related to the alleged murder.

“The informant’s position is the skate park incident has nothing to do with the incident where the deceased was ultimately killed,” he told the court.

“Mr Thatcher has already been subject to lengthy examination at the compulsory examination hearing.

“I don’t see how Mr Thatcher can help in any shape or form… it’s simply a red herring.”

Magistrate Bruce Cottrill agreed, and said he was not persuaded about the relevance of the skate park incident.

“There may have been some skirmish involving various people… this is a committal that related to an act of murder which is not related to that incident,” he said.

“It may be related in the sense that the parties may have had some peripheral engagement.”

Mr Cottrill refused the request to have Mr Thatcher give evidence at the contested committal.

Stone will appear at the five-day hearing in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court beginning on November 27.