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Murder trial witness tells of hearing shots

The trial of two men accused of murdering Malcolm Augustus continues, with the court hearing that the defendants were hunting someone over stolen cannabis.

Wolda Gardner, 35, and Patrick Stamp, 30, both deny charges of premeditated murder over the killing, which took place on Christmas night, along with charges of using a firearm to commit an indictable act.

A witness told the jury on Thursday that he had been with both defendants on the night of the murder, trying to find someone who had robbed Mr Stamp.

He said that at about 6.30pm or 7.30pm that day, he took his son to his mother's house and went to St George's Cricket Club to enjoy a drink before wrapping his son's Christmas presents.

Leaving the club, he went the wrong way up a one-way road because the headlight of his bike was not working and he wanted to avoid the Police.

As he approached the top of Wellington Back Road, he saw Mr Stamp in the middle of the street near a motorcycle, which was lying on its side. He said Mr Stamp was “huffing and puffing” when he arrived, holding a piece of “Belco wire”.

“I asked him what happened,” the witness said. “He said he was making a sale of a quarter ounce of weed to two guys but instead of buying it, they tried robbing him.”

The witness said he chased the two robbers towards the witness's home. The witness told Mr Stamp to stay where he was, while he went down to check the property. While there, he also grabbed his son's cricket bat.

He later went back to Mr Stamp, who got on the back of his bike, and the pair rode around the area in search of the robbers.

Eventually, they came across Mr Gardner, who was standing near the junction of Anchorage Lane and a “golf course road”.

“[Mr Gardner] said he saw somebody run into the bushes, into the bamboo,” the witness said. “We all decided to flush him out.”

He said the trio began to “beat the bushes” and shouted at the man to come out.

During the search, they noticed a light near the top of the golf course. He and Mr Gardner went to investigate and found a man fixing a tyre on his jeep. They asked him to move the jeep closer to the bamboo to help them search for the man.

He did, but they still could not see far into the bushes, so they asked him to move the vehicle again.

“As he did so, Wolda walked in front of the jeep,” the witness said. “As he was about to walk into the light, I saw him reach into his belt and pull out a gun, walking into the bushes.

“I freaked out because I weren't up for all that. My bike was parked up closer to the main road. I went, got on my bike and rode down to my sister's boyfriend's house.”

Moments after he reached the house, he realised that he did not have his helmet and must have left it near the bushes. Realising the helmet would link him to the scene if anything happened, he turned and ran back up the hill. He said he could not run the entire distance because he suffers from asthma, forcing him to alternate between running and walking.

When he reached the area, he began to search near the bamboo for his helmet. He then heard Mr Stamp's voice about 20 feet away, shouting: “He's right here, he's right here.” The shout was followed by two gunshots.

“At that point I said, ‘f*** the helmet, I'm out',” the witness said. “I was booking. I ran all the way home. I didn't even get my bike.” He admitted that he did not call the Police after the incident, but when he heard from a neighbour that he was a suspect in the killing, he turned himself in at Southside Police Station.

Under cross examination by defence lawyer Richard Horseman, representing Mr Gardner, the witness accepted that he had also gone to a friend's house on the eventing of the shooting and, while there, “wrestled” with someone.

However, he said he could not recall if he had anything to drink either at his home or at the friend's house, if Mr Stamp had been at the friend's house or when he attended the house.

He also said he could not describe the gun, but insisted that he saw Mr Gardner holding a handgun, saying: “I saw the silhouette of a gun. When he pulled the gun out he made a gesture, but I also saw the gun.”

Asked about his helmet, he said he had left it on his bike seat when the group began to search the bushes, and he believed it must have rolled off the bike seat before he fled.

While he identified his helmet as one of two found at the scene, and that it was not near where he had parked his bike, he could not explain how it might have gotten there.

Mr Horseman suggested that the witness had been the one to initiate the search for the robbers and had asked the man to take the car closer to the bushes, but he said both of the decisions were “agreed”.

The lawyer also suggested that the witness wanted to punish the robbers, to which he replied: “I would not kill nobody over weed, especially if it's not my weed.”

The trial continues.

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Published April 06, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated April 06, 2015 at 2:29 am)

Murder trial witness tells of hearing shots

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