turtons-creek1YESTERDAY the Supreme Court Trial into the assault of two South Gippsland Shire Council staff members, at Turtons Creek on Monday, May 25, 2014, was reaching its conclusion at Morwell.

And it is expected that the jury will begin its deliberations today, Thursday, June 23, after directions from Justice Jane Dixon, following the eight-day trial, in which Jonas Black, 46 of Turtons Creek is facing two attempted murder charges and a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The features of the trial on Wednesday were the closing arguments by state prosecutor Campbell Thomson and counsel for the defence Sarah Leighfield.

Both focused on the key aspects of the case; the threats allegedly made by Black during the assaults, the ‘grave’ like hole discovered a day later 4km from the Black property, the two bags of lime purchased by Black in Foster two days before the attack and the mud found on the accused man’s boots and shovel.

Mr Thomson said the threats made by Mr Black, including a remark he is alleged to have made to one of the victims, Justin Eades, after the other victim Matthew Patterson had escaped into the bush: “You know I was trying to kill you back there” clearly indicated the accused man’s intent on the day.

Ms Leighfield denied such a comment was made.

In relation to the ‘grave’ found by a member of the public on May 26, Mr Thomson said the excavation measuring 2m long, by 750mm wide and 650mm deep couldn’t be anything else but a grave.

He said Black would have to be the “unluckiest man alive” if after bludgeoning these two men with a steel scaffolding pipe, that a grave-like hole was found the next day 4km away at a site known to Mr Black, if he wasn’t the one who dug it.

Ms Leighfield addressed all aspects relating to the hole, concluding that “we’d suggest to you that all of that evidence establishes that there was just no opportunity for Mr Black to have dug this hole.”

The two legal representatives also spoke about the purchase of the lime two days before the assault. Ms Leighfield summed up the issue:

“So what else is it that the prosecution says points to premeditation? Hydrated lime. The prosecutor says to you that Mr Black purchased the hydrated lime and it’s the prosecution theory that he purchased that hydrated lime – I think this is what he’s saying – anyway, because he wanted to be able to decompose the bodies of Mr Eades and Mr Patterson after he killed them. That’s the drift I got from what he said.

“Well let’s deal with that suggestion. First, ladies and gentlemen, there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that hydrated lime can be used for that purpose. Now that might be an urban myth or suggestions in movies that lime might be used for that, but there’s actually no evidence that hydrated lime can be used in that way.

“But even if there was such evidence, there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Mr Black thought or knew it could be used in that way. And there’s absolutely no evidence that it was going to be used for that purpose. Mr Black had perfectly legitimate reasons for buying hydrated lime.

“This was by no means the first time he bought it. He was a stonemason and a bricklayer and he used hydrated lime for his work. He also used hydrated lime for various jobs around his property.”

Ms Leighfield said it was also doubtful Mr Black would buy the bags of lime in the presence of others if he had a sinister purpose for it.

Mr Thomson also spoke at length about the boots and the shovel allegedly used to dig the hole and the fact that Mr Black had phoned his girlfriend from prison asking her to dispose of the boots, “because they are old”.

Brandishing the boots in a plastic bag in front of the jury, Mr Thomson said the boots were clearly not old, and had at least another good year’s wear in them.

“Why does he want Ms [name of girlfriend] to get rid of the boots? He realises these boots might connect him to the grave, to the excavation if they were tested.”

But Ms Leighfield told the court that the police made a mistake in not supplying soil expert, Professor Robert Fitzpatrick of Adelaide University, with a variety of soil samples, instead of one from the excavation site, with which to rule out other areas frequented by Mr Black locally from where the soil on the boots and shovel might also have come.

“The third issue about that hole is Professor Fitzpatrick’s evidence. Whilst he does say that there is an extremely strong degree of comparability between the soil from the excavation and the soil from the shovel, even he had to concede he could not exclude that that soil on the shovel – and for that matter, the soil on the boots – came from somewhere other than that excavation.” Ms Leighfield told the jury.

It is likely a decision in the case will be known in the next few days.