A murderer jailed for life for killing a man whose body was discovered in a mummified state is fighting his conviction.
A murderer jailed for life for killing a man whose body was discovered in a mummified state is fighting his conviction.

Killer to fight murder conviction

A Queensland killer jailed for life for the murder of a man found decomposing in remote bushland has claimed the jury's verdict was "unreasonable".

Brent Malcolm Huxley was sentenced in 2019 to life imprisonment for murdering north Queensland man Michael McCabe in August 2015.

Mr McCabe, 25, was assaulted by a group at a Townsville unit before being loaded into the boot of a car and driven to the Crystal Creek region, about 80km north.

Huxley (pictured) was sentenced in 2019 to life imprisonment for the 2015 killing of Michael McCabe but has since appealed the conviction.
Huxley (pictured) was sentenced in 2019 to life imprisonment for the 2015 killing of Michael McCabe but has since appealed the conviction.

His partially skeletonised and mummified body was found in remote bushland on September 17, 2015.

An autopsy revealed Mr McCabe had multiple fractures to his face, consistent with having a large rock dropped on his head.

In September 2019, a jury at Townsville Supreme Court found Huxley had murdered Mr McCabe in this manner.

Another man, Jason Douglas Taylor, was also jailed for life for Mr McCabe's murder.

Huxley has appealed his conviction, arguing the verdict of the jury was "unreasonable" and the prosecutor's opening address was "improper and unfair" because it deprived him of a chance of acquittal.

Murder victim Michael McCabe.
Murder victim Michael McCabe.

 

He further claimed the trial judge erred by not dismissing the jury after the prosecutor's "prejudicial" opening and in calling a particular witness to give evidence.

During the trial, witness Darren Hess gave evidence Huxley told him about killing Mr McCabe with the rock.

Huxley's defence barrister Simon Hamlyn-Harris argued the jury should not have accepted Mr Hess' evidence because it was contradictory and unreliable.

It was further argued the prosecutor had made prejudicial statements about the case in his opening, including reference to "inadmissable hearsay" about the location of the body by Mr Taylor to police and a "plan" schemed by Huxley to murder Mr McCabe with the help of others.

Huxley claimed the verdict of the jury was “unreasonable” but the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed his application.
Huxley claimed the verdict of the jury was “unreasonable” but the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed his application.

 

In her written decision, Justice Debra Mullins said Huxley had claimed there was a risk in the trial of this information being "subconsciously" used by the jury.

"Mr Huxley argued his trial was unfair because of the objectionable parts of the prosecution opening, which were the very first things the jury heard about the facts and the so-called plan constituted a theme of the opening address," Justice Mullins said.

However, she said strong directions had been given by the trial judge about parts of the prosecution's opening and the risk perceived of the jury ignoring directions was "based on conjecture".

Justice Mullins said the jury had also been given "ample opportunity" to assess Mr Hess' reliability through cross-examination.

Huxley's appeal was dismissed.

Two other people were tried with Huxley for other offences relating to Mr McCabe's death.

Matthew Luke Horima Rewha was found not guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Leonie Doyle, Huxley's girlfriend at the time, was found guilty of being an accessory after the fact to manslaughter on the basis of assistance given to Mr Huxley.

Originally published as Killer to fight gruesome murder conviction