THE Phillip Island murder trial has reached its final stages.
Crown Prosecutor Dr Nanette Rogers SC concluded her closing remarks on Wednesday this week, saying that on the evidence the jury had no alternative but to find the accused man, Adrian Basham, guilty of the “cold and brutal murder” of his estranged wife, Samantha Fraser.
Ms Rogers spent two days, on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, sifting through 79 witness accounts and 58 exhibits including chilling photos and videos of the crime scene, as well as forensic evidence of blood stains, and the 41 injuries that Mr Basham has already admitted to inflicting on Ms Fraser to build her case for a guilty verdict.
But, as the defence counsel for Mr Basham, Ashley Helphen explained to the jury when he commenced his closing remarks, later in the morning on Wednesday, April 13, Day 18 of the trial, there were a lot of inconsistencies in the evidence, questioning Mr Basham’s state of mind and his actions on the day of Ms Fraser’s death, and Ms Fraser’s emotional state and the possibility that she could have taken her own life.
He referenced inconsistent phycological evidence about Ms Fraser and also highlighted an account given by a friend of Ms Fraser, Lija Matthews, that she thought Samantha wanted to talk about breaking up with her new boyfriend, Wayne Foster, on the morning of her death.
Suicide, he said, was a possibility on the evidence that the jury could not rule out.
However, prior to Mr Halphen commencing his summing up, Ms Rogers had reprised the extent of Ms Fraser’s injuries for the court, detailing how the scale of the bruising above both the left and right eyes was only revealed to have extended back beyond the hairline, as far as the right ear in one case, when Ms Fraser’s hair was shaved during the autopsy.
Ms Rogers said the extent of the blunt-force trauma inflicted by Mr Basham on Ms Fraser, included evidence of probable early axonal injury to the corpus collosum which is a large white matter tract in the centre of the brain.
It was on the evidence of forensic pathologist Dr Linda Iles that such an injury, more typical in road accidents, was caused by rotational force and velocity applied to Ms Fraser’s head while she was still alive.
Ms Rogers said there was evidence of multiple blunt force injures to Samantha Fraser’s face, neck, head, legs, hands, arms and in that context, it was simply “absurd” to suggest that Ms Fraser got up, after suffering 41 injuries, and hanged herself.
She said there was no blood found on Ms Fraser’s hands, apart from a little amount on the left little finger.
“Samantha Fraser’s hands were clean, and she didn’t deposit her own blood when tying the knot behind her neck or deposit her own blood when touching the loop below the knot. The prosecution case is that Adrian Basham deposited Samantha Fraser’s blood on the rope, which accounts for why his DNA is on the rope in those particular items,” Ms Rogers said.
She revisited evidence that Ms Fraser’s hair was wet when found by police, where on CCTV footage from the Skunk Wear shop, near the G’Day Tiger Café, Ms Fraser is seen leaving the vicinity at 11.18am on the day of her death, with dry hair.
Ms Rogers told the jury it was most likely Mr Basham wet Ms Fraser’s hair to remove some of the blood and likely wiped his estranged wife down with her own white jumper before leaving the scene.
Neither the white jumper nor Mr Basham’s distinctive blue jacket, seen in CCTV video in Seagrove Way that day, have been recovered.
Ms Rogers also asked how likely it was that a barefoot Ms Fraser would place the blue shoes she wore to the school drop-off and coffee on the day, neatly together in the hallway when a pile of shoes was left haphazard elsewhere.
Ms Rogers said that despite evidence of Ms Fraser struggling with the accused and trying to defend herself, as indicated by the scratch on Mr Basham’s nose and forearm, and his DNA found under her fingernails, that he ultimately overpowered her, subdued her, and hanged her before leaving the garage through a gap under the door.
The trial continues this week, with Mr Halphen’s closing remarks, delivered by video link due to his positive COVID test, likely to run into Thursday morning.
With a break in the trial expected over Easter, it maybe that Justice Taylor’s instructions to the jury will have to wait until the week after the Easter break.
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