Daniel George Hong, who had a murder charged in relation to Chantal Barnett and Robert Martinez's deaths dropped this week.
Daniel George Hong, who had a murder charged in relation to Chantal Barnett and Robert Martinez's deaths dropped this week. Facebook

REVEALED: What the jury didn't hear in murder trial

THREE witnesses in the Martinez and Barnett double murder trial were accused of withholding evidence to protect the accused men after suffering 'memory problems'.

One was even accused of sleeping with a defendant as payment for drugs.

Another, accused of wanting to protect his drug associate friend by not answering questions, was charged with Contempt of Court and declared a hostile witness as a result. It was later revealed this witness, Filip Grbavac, was in prison for trafficking drugs.

A third witness, who was 16 years old at the time told the court she overheard a conversation about 'what to do with the bodies', was accused of making demands of police - including charges being dropped, family relocated and rehabilitation paid for - in exchange for giving evidence in the case.

All of this evidence was heard in court while the jury were out to the room - during a Voir dire, which is a trial within a trial - or post trial.

Robert Martinez
Robert Martinez Contributed

Daniel George Hong and Ian Robert Armstrong stood trial this month accused of murdering Robert Marintez and Chantal Barnett between March 2 and March 7, 2013, where evidence Rockhampton's "seedy underbelly" was exposed..

In a surprise move on Tuesday morning last week, the accused men entered pleas of guilty to two charges each of interfering with a corpse and the murder charges were dropped. Both received two years or less prison sentences, wholly served.

Now the matters have been finalised, The Morning Bulletin can reveal what happened in the court room when the jury was out of the room.

The court heard during Grbavac's voir dire that the police officer who took his statement on the Gold Coast on October 28, 2015, wrote into the statement file that Grbavac's sentence for supplying drugs would be reduced as part of a deal for the signed affidavit with information for the case against Hong and Armstrong.

However, Grbavac said he didn't recall talking with his lawyers about the deal.

Victim Chantal Barnett
Victim Chantal Barnett

Meanwhile, after Grbavac was taken out of the court room momentarily, Hong's defence barrister Stephen Kissick said Grbavac's testimony in the affidavit about Ms Barnett's body being chopped up and placed in a barrel at the back of a Rockhampton motorbike shop was inconsistent with the crown's case and a crown witness - the motorbike shop owner - would testify no barrels were ever kept at the back of the shop.

"The account is nothing, if not fanciful," Mr Kissick said.

Justice Graeme Crow said the details of the 'remarkable conversation' were quite extraordinary.

"I find it difficult to believe he would have this recollection and then just forget it," he said.

Priscilla C'Ward gave evidence on September 14, saying her husband of the time (Dale Staughton), her daughter, her daughter's boyfriend and herself drove around with Hong on the night of March 2, 2013.

She said the next day, Hong turned up at the family cabin at a northside caravan park, covered in scratches and bruises with blood on his clothes.

Ms C'Ward told the court her former partner as the one who took Hong's blood stained clothes, washed them and left them in a bag on the patio for months.

SES search Police and SES personal search Mt Jim Crow, between Yeppoon and Rockhampton, and Gavial Creek, at Port Curtis, for missing Rockhampton pair Robert Martinez and Chantal Barnett.
SES search Police and SES personal search Mt Jim Crow, between Yeppoon and Rockhampton, and Gavial Creek, at Port Curtis, for missing Rockhampton pair Robert Martinez and Chantal Barnett. Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin

At the end of her Voir dire, crown prosecutor Vicki Loury accused Ms C'Ward of purposely withholding evidence to protect Mr Hong, whom she had been having sex with in exchange for drugs in 2013 and this was the cause of her marriage breakdown with Mr Staughton.

Ms C'Ward denied the accusations.

Dusti-Lee White, who was 16 when she heard a conversation between Hong, Armstrong and a third man about what to do with the body, was accused by Mr Kissick of making demands on police for her evidence.

Ms White told the court she didn't recall such demands and it was more likely her mother made those demands.

Mr Kissick tried to have Ms White's evidence struck from trial proceedings due to her memory issues - she had originally told police a friend of her's overheard the conversation but later said she was the one her heard the conversation. Justice Graeme Crow refused the application.

The court also heard two crown witnesses had not turned up to the courthouse, despite being subpoenaed. Warrants were issued as a result, however, the trial ended the next day.

Grbavac was sentenced for his Contempt of Court charge on Tuesday afternoon, after the murder trial ended. He was convicted and not further punished.



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