Dramatic testimony against Martinez/Barnett murder accused
WITNESSES provided chilling yet sketchy testimonies during the committal hearing for the Martinez Barnett murders today.
Two men, Daniel George Hong, 41, and Ian Robert Armstrong, 31, stood in the dock of the Rockhampton Magistrates court accused of carrying out the murders of Rockhampton friends Robert Martinez and Chantal Barnett in 2013.
Of the four witnesses who were set to present evidence into the murders, only two were present to testify - Rebecca Kenny and Samantha Gimm.
Crown prosecutor Glen Cash called on Ms Kenny first to reaffirm the accuracy of her three police statements before Defence Barrister Stephen Kissick began to probe into her reliability as a witness.
Ms Kenny admitted her memory wasn't great owing to the fact that she was using a lot of drugs at the time of the disappearances and a lot of time had passed since the events took place.
Other factors impairing her memory were the medication she had been taking since she was 10-years-old, anti-depressant Avanza and anti-psychotic medication Seroquel for her bipolar disorder and the chemotherapy she was and still is undergoing for cancer treatment.
Despite these factors, Ms Kenny could recollect through a hazy memory a conversation that took place months before the disappearance of Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett.
It took place in a cramped flat where she and several other people were "fried out” on methamphetamine and a synthetic version of the drug with a child crawling around on the floor when she overheard a conversation about money that stuck in her mind.
Defence Barrister Andrew Hoare took up questioning of Ms Kenny, delving into the details of the overheard conversation.
She could remember Mr Armstrong talking about a tarp.
"I remember him saying him something about a tarp at my cousin's house,” she said.
"I know it was exactly him saying that.
"I was going off my head thinking why the f--- would you do that?”
She could also recall something said by Mr Hong.
"I do remember him saying something about 'let's just get rid of them', something like that, Daniel (said), and I instantly asked 'why would you do that?'” Ms Kenny said.
"Them two things I do remember, they are stuck in my mind.”
When she saw news of the disappearances on TV months later, Ms Kenny described getting "chills” and relocated from Rockhampton not long after.
The Crown Prosecutor then called on the second witness Samantha Gimm who confirmed her two written statements to the police were accurate before Barrister Hoare probed in Ms Gimm's recollections of the events that occurred in 2013.
Ms Gimm lived with a woman called Tanya who was in a sexual relationship with Mr Armstrong and during that time, she said he had made repeated threats towards her.
"He kept threatening me and my mate Tanya that we would be floating in the river beside her and we'd never be found,” Ms Gimm said.
She recalled her flatmate getting a call from Mr Armstrong asking if she had a tarp.
"Ian rang my mate Tanya and he asked if we had a tarp, I was in the room when Tanya got the phone call and she asked me if we did have a tarp and we didn't have one,” Ms Gimm said.
Mr Hoare confirmed with Ms Gimm that Mr Armstrong was making the "floating in the river” threats at the same time he was protesting that he was getting set up saying "I'm going to go to jail 55 years over something I didn't do”.
Ms Gimm recalled him saying it at her kitchen table.
She said on another occasion he said he feared he would be going away for 25 years for something he didn't do.
"I asked him whether he did it and he said it's funny you say that, my family's asking me the same question,” she said.
She said that Mr Armstrong had paid keen attention to the media coverage when the news broke surrounding the disappearance of Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett.
"Him and Heinzie used to come to our place with their mobile phones and be tracing whatever news the police knew about whatever was getting discovered,” Ms Gimm said.
"They knew all about that, it was starting to scare me.
"If you didn't do it, why are you tracking what's going on,” she said with her voice starting to break.
Between the news monitoring and the threats, Ms Gimm believed she had a cause for concern.
"That just puts curiosity in your head and makes you think he has done it and why would you come out with that (threat) if you didn't know where she was?” she said.
Magistrate Jeff Clarke had heard enough and committed the matter to trial in Rockhampton Supreme court.
He asked Mr Armstrong if he had anything to say to the charge of murder and he replied, "No”.
When Mr Hong was asked if he had anything to say to the murder charge he said "not guilty”.
The men were remanded in custody awaiting the trial on a date to be notified by the Director of Public Prosecutions.