High Court backs jury over ‘unreliable’ murder witness

Rex Martinich |

A man who was jailed for life for murdering a 25-year-old and dumping his body in remote bushland has failed to overturn his conviction in the High Court.

Brent Malcolm Huxley claimed that jury members for his Supreme Court trial at Townsville were given unlawful directions about a prosecution witness before they convicted him in September 2019.

Huxley, then aged 35, was one of three people to face trial in 2019 over the death of Michael McCabe in a Townsville unit in August 2015 and his body being taken to the Crystal Creek area about 80km north-west. 

The jury heard from a witness who said Huxley admitted he had “done a hit” on Mr McCabe for $10,000 by dropping a large rock on him.

Matthew Luke Horima Rewha was found not guilty of unlawful assault occasioning bodily harm whilst in company.

The testimony of witness Candis Nicole Greer was the only evidence against Mr Rewha.

Ms Greer initially refused to give evidence and later told the jury she was “a bit all over the place” on the day in question having consumed significant amounts of alcohol and methamphetamine.

The jury was instructed to disregard Ms Greer’s evidence if they were not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that her account was “truthful, reliable and accurate”.

The appeal argued that Ms Greer’s evidence also supported Huxley’s claim that Mr McCabe died from an assault that did not involve Huxley.

Huxley argued that the jury could have taken their instructions to mean they should also disregard Ms Greer’s evidence that supported his defence.

In a decision handed down on Wednesday, a majority of three out of five High Court justices dismissed Huxley’s appeal.

The three justices found that the direction given to the jury about Ms Greer’s evidence would not have deflected them from their “fundamental task of deciding whether the prosecution has proved the elements of (murder) beyond reasonable doubt”.

The minority opinion found that the jury should have been instructed to find Huxley not guilty if they had a reasonable belief that Mr McCabe could have died from an assault while Huxley was not present.