Second man committed to supreme court over Brogden murder
UPDATE: A second man has been committed to Mackay Supreme Court over the murder of Jay Brogden at the Whitsundays.
Braddon Charles Peter Butler, along with Gavin Philip Parnell, is charged with killing the 21 year old in April 2007. Neither man has entered a plea.
A committal hearing for Mr Butler heard evidence from 47 witnesses.
A woman on Friday told Mackay Magistrates Court she heard a man named Mark Shoesmith “brag” about bashing and killing Jay Brogden.
Nadine Nowicki said she had been with a group of people at her place – everyone had been drinking, but she was sober, the court heard.
Mr Shoesmith has never been charged over Mr Brogden’s death. He vanished in 2007 and his body has never been found.
Ms Nowicki recalled to a committal hearing for Mr Butler that when she was with the group, that included Mr Shoesmith, the topic of Mr Brogden was mentioned.
“There was a media broadcast about Jay’s disappearance … and Mark Shoesmith started to brag about how he and his mates had bashed him, tied him up and took him out in a boat and killed him,” Ms Nowicki said.
“And then dumped him overboard.”
Defence barrister Scott Lynch, for Mr Butler, asked if Mr Shoesmith said “how it was that he killed him”?
“No,” Ms Nowicki said, later adding she had asked if he had actually killed Mr Brogden or if he was just saying he had “to make yourself look good in front of us all”.
Ms Nowicki told the court Mr Shoesmith said, “No I did it, I did it.”
Mr Lynch asked if Ms Nowicki was afraid of Mr Shoesmith and she said yes.
“I did believe him, yes,” she said.
Mr Shoesmith also gave evidence during the committal hearing. He was not questioned directly on whether he had been involved in Mr Brogden’s disappearance or death.
Under questioning by Mr Lynch, Mr Shoesmith denied ever going fishing with Mr Brogden and said he did not know Mr Parnell “from a bar of soap”.
“Did you ever ring Jay Brogden prior to his disappearance?” Mr Lynch asked.
Mr Shoesmith said he “very well could have” as Mr Brogden, at one point, had wanted a lift to Casey Heath’s house.
The court heard Casey Heath has at one point been a suspect in relation to Mr Brogden’s murder. He has never been charged.
“You were aware that Casey was pretty annoyed at him (Mr Brogden) because of what he’d done to Patricia?” Mr Lynch asked, to which Mr Shoesmith said “yes”.
The court heard Mr Brogden had allegedly been involved in a physical fight with Patricia Heath, Casey Heath’s sister.
Mr Shoesmith said Mr Heath “quite possibly” spoke about this just before Mr Brogden disappeared.
He told the court on one occasion he drove Mr Brogden to Mr Heath so the pair could talk – that he stayed in the car and the two men spoke while standing on either side of a fence.
Mr Shoesmith said the talk did not become physical. He also added Mr Heath had told him Mr Brogden was no longer welcome at the Heaths’ home.
Another witness Jamie Parnell claimed someone told him he had been there when someone was killed and “the killing took place in a motel room”, the court heard.
Mr Lynch asked Mr Parnell if a firearm was used and he said “couldn’t tell you”.
Mr Parnell said this conversation happened about eight years ago, but could not answer why he did not go to the police at the time.
He said the police turned up at his home before he knew about the reward, but ultimately he gave a statement after a large billboard announcing a $250,000 reward for information over Mr Brogden’s murder had been placed around.
Jamie Parnell said the person told him he believed a man named Gavin Parnell had been involved and did not mention any other name.
Justin Hunold told the committal that Gavin Parnell allegedly told him a number of times “that he killed before”.
The court heard Gavin had allegedly said, “you haven’t hurt someone or killed someone … you haven’t done what I’ve done”.
Mr Hunold said at the time he had not been sure how serious Gavin was “but as it turns out it was a very serious statement”.
The court heard he had allegedly said if he killed someone he would weigh them down in water with an anchor.
Mr Hunold said “for the most part I would assume he was talking in a bravado way”, adding that Gavin “always tried to appear as a tough guy”.
“It seemed incredible at the time,” Mr Hunold said.
The court heard Gavin also allegedly told Mr Hunold he was a “hit man” to recover drugs.
“That I definitely believed,” Mr Hunold said.
The committal hearing spanned five days, and wrapped up on Friday when Mr Lynch conceded there was a prima facie case against his client.
Mr Butler was committed to Mackay Supreme Court on a date to be set.
The case against Mr Parnell was committed to the supreme court on Monday.
Neither man has entered a plea and both remain in custody on remand.
The Department of Public Prosecutions now has six months to formally charge the pair in the higher court.
The court heard a number of witnesses could not be located or failed to comply with a subpoena to be questioned at the committal.
EARLIER: The sister of a man at one point considered a suspect in the murder of Jay Brogden claimed she saw the 21 year old in 2008 after he had disappeared.
Mr Brogden was reported missing on May 2, 2007 by a family member.
Jade Tipping, who is the sister of Casey Heath, gave a police statement in 2019 in which she said she was “pretty confident that (she) saw Jay Brogden in 2008”, Mackay Magistrates Court heard.
The court has heard evidence Casey Heath was linked to Mr Brogden’s death in relation to an allegedly physical incident with another sister Patricia Heath.
Casey has never been charged over the death. Braddon Charles Peter Butler and Gavin Philip Parnell are charged with murder. Neither have entered a plea
During a committal hearing for Mr Butler, Ms Tipping admitted she gave her statement to police after she knew her brother was a suspect.
Defence barrister Scott Lynch asked if she went to police at the time.
Ms Tipping said she had no reason to because “as far as I was aware in 2008 he wasn’t a missing person”.
“No one was suspected of anything, he had just disappeared,” she said.
Mr Lynch asked if Ms Tipping was “trying to cover” for her brother, to which she said no.
“It … definitely looked like him (Jay Brogden). Obviously we didn’t stop, we couldn’t stop to actually confirm it was him,” Ms Tipping said.
“But to my knowledge what his appearance was at the time he disappeared, that was Jay running across the road.”
Mr Lynch asked Casey Heath’s father, Geoffrey Heath, if he had ever “exerted any influence” on another daughter named Charlie “about what to say in relation to proceedings”.
“No not officially,” Geoffrey said. He added there was a phone call where he had said she should not get involved.
Mr Lynch asked if he had told her “don’t tell them anything”.
Geoffrey said only one part of the phone call was played and was “taken out of context”.
“They never actually finished playing all of it where I told her she shouldn’t bloody try and get involved in this matter at all, I didn’t actually try and stop her from telling the truth,” he said.
“If the actual telephone call was played fully it would come out that what I did tell her was if you have to go in then you have to tell them the truth.”
Arrest warrants may be issued for some witnesses subpoenaed to testify in the murder committal.
The court heard a number of witnesses had been served – two have indicated they will not participate, while three have not been located.
“We’d be seeking warrants for the witnesses that have been served,” prosecutor Sergeant Sabine Scott said.
The committal continues.