Jury to decide fate of man accused of murdering flat mate
THE fate of a man accused of tying up his flatmate with duct tape before torturing and beating her to death is now in the hands of a jury.
The 12 men and women tasked with deciding whether Christopher James Swan murdered Amanda Quirk began deliberating at 3.40pm Monday and were sent home about 5.30pm.
Yesterday marked four years since the fateful night when Ms Quirk lost her life in the Booval home where she was living with Mr Swan and Rachel Narelle Smith.
The court has heard how Mr Swan and Ms Smith pointed the finger at each other as responsible for the murder but Mr Swan is the one on trial.
Crown prosecutor Ben Power had told the jury it did not matter whether they agreed on every aspect of what Ms Smith claimed had happened.
"Rachel Smith, whatever view you take of her - sympathetic or not - it was her going to police that broke this case open," he said.
"Without that, (Mr Swan) would have simply stuck to his lies.
"Amanda Quirk's body may never have been found and Amanda Quirk's name may have been just another name on the list of missing persons.
"In a case like this with so many aspects of the evidence that are so strong in so many different ways that it is entirely possible that some of you will form different views about parts of the evidence.
"But you'll be satisfied at the end of the defendant's guilt.
"The moment Amanda Quirk was dead he began organising disposal of her body.
"He then drove hours down into forest in NSW to dump her body there.
"The way he saw it, the only witnesses were two women and he had brought both of them into the cover-up of
Amanda's death and they would say nothing out of fear of him and fear of the consequences of their own actions."
Defence barrister John Allen said the jury had to put aside that Mr Swan drove while disqualified, used illegal drugs, deprived Ms Quirk of her liberty when he tied her up with duct tape, disposed of her body and stole money from Ms Quirk's bank account using an ATM after her death.
He said the jury must focus on the only question before them - whether Mr Swan murdered Ms Quirk.
"All those things constitute criminal offences but those offences are not being considered in this court at this time," he said.
"What is being considered is the charge … of murder.
"It would be quite wrong to reason 'well he's the sort of person who is prepared to commit other criminal offences so therefore he's prepared to commit this offence'.
"There are a number of ways the deceased could have died that do not involve (Mr Swan) himself contributing to that death so as to be guilty in law on offence of murder or manslaughter."
Mr Allen said Ms Quirk could have died as a result of injuries from Michelle Mondientz during an earlier roadside attack or because of those injuries in combination with a subsequent assault from Ms Smith at the Booval house.
He said on his client's version, he was not involved in either of those assaults.
Mr Allen said the third possibility for causing Ms Quirk's death was methadone toxicity as identified in the autopsy.
"Let's for the sake of argument accept those as possible situation," he said.
"(Mr Swan) himself, in such a possible scenario, is not, as a matter of law, guilty of murder or manslaughter, because he has not in fact caused the injury which caused the death.
"However in those scenarios, given the accepted conduct … doesn't he still have reason to act like a guilty man?
"He's there at the roadside when those injuries are inflicted, he's there later at the house and he is involved in tying up the deceased's arms and hands, he's there when she dies.
"They're all circumstances which would cause a person to panic and see it in his own interests to move the deceased's body."
The jury will continue deliberating on Tuesday.