Four charged with murder
A HOUSE fire that led to four men being charged with murder could have started from a drug laboratory explosion, a court has heard.
Andrew and Benjamin Biffin, Graham Smith and Nicholas McCulloch were charged with the murder of Luke Ogilvie, 50, of Bilambil whose body was found in the charred remains of a Urliup Rd house in March last year.
It was previously alleged in court that the murder was a “drug rip-off gone wrong” and that Smith targeted the deceased because he was allegedly assaulting the mother of a friend.
The four were dressed in prison greens as they sat in the dock of Lismore Local Court during a committal hearing yesterday.
A former police officer who worked on the case said four cars were forensically examined after the alleged murder and one had blood on it. A hair was also found in the car's tyre area.
During the hearing yesterday, public defender Craig Smith alleged Ogilvie was involved in the production of illicit drugs.
Mr Smith suggested there was a possibility the fire started as a result of a “cook up gone wrong.”
He also grilled the officer on why police did not recruit the services of NSW Police drug laboratory experts to assess the fire scene.
Police found a burner in the shower room of the house and laboratory glassware in the outside entertainment area.
“There was not enough glass concentrated in one area that indicated (a drug lab explosion),” she said.
“Due to the damage at the fire scene, it was deemed too great to get much.
“It was determined that our examination was sufficient. I don't believe lab experts could have assisted any further.”
The officer said she was not able to find an ignition source at the fire.
The committal hearing continues today.