The day final 'Ace' played: Criminal underworld exposed
WHEN Phillip Becker fatally shot an associate, he was acting in self-defence.
According to court documents, Becker, now 34, had reason to believe 31-year-old Ace Hall was reaching for a gun when he was shot while sitting in the driver's seat of a hired Holden Commodore sedan in Tweed Heads South.
Becker, from Kingscliff, formally pleaded guilty to manslaughter before Lismore Local Court last week and has been committed for sentence.
He was originally charged with murder over the June 24, 2017 shooting, but this more serious charge was formally withdrawn when Becker entered his plea to the lesser charge.
As Becker awaits sentence, new details about the incident have been revealed.
ACCORDING to previously unavailable court documents, Becker had been "criminally involved" with 49-year-old Wayne Moorehead, as well as another man, Dylan (Casper) Smith.
Moorehead was a "close associate of (Becker) and also knew the deceased".
Hall and Smith were "involved in criminal activity around the Gold Coast and Tweed areas", some of it "apparently on behalf of Moorehead".
Prior to the shooting, Hall had been staying with Lily Te-Aroha Hawira in Surfers Paradise.
Becker, who had been released from custody on February 24, 2017 and was serving 10 months' parole for drug supply, was also staying in Surfers Paradise with his then-girlfriend, Emma Thorley.
Court documents state Hall was known to Becker "but it was the view of their associates, including Thorley, that they did not like each other".
Smith and Hall were "well known to one another and were friends".
Becker, Thorley, Hall and Smith were all "users of methylamphetamine... and involved in street-level supply", court documents said.
Becker, Thorley, Hall and Hawira had been at the Tweed Heads South home of Smith and his girlfriend, Jessica Harris-Holmes, in the hours leading up to the shooting.
IN THE month prior to Hall's death, Moorehead "lost" $130,000 of his own money "in an apparent drug rip off".
He purchased a .44 Magnum revolver for $9000, which Becker had in his possession.
Moorehead also bought a single-barrel shotgun, which Smith possessed, followed by Hall.
THE HIRED VEHICLES
MOOREHEAD hired a white Holden Commodore station wagon for Hall to drive on June 16.
Hall was due to return the car to Europcar at the Gold Coast Airport on June 19, but he kept driving the vehicle.
Moorehead had difficulty reaching him when Hall did not return the car in time.
Hall was in the driver's seat of this car when he was shot.
Moorehead also hired a Holden Calais sedan, for Becker to drive. Moorehead was driving a Toyota Corolla, a hired replacement for a vehicle owned by Becker which was being repaired.
THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING
BECKER left the Surf Parade Resort, carrying a black satchel bag, at 12.40pm on June 24. Thorley left one minute later.
The pair went to Smith's Machinery Drive unit, to drop off his girlfriend's handbag.
Hall and Hawira also travelled from Surfers Paradise to the unit shortly after 12pm.
Smith and Harris-Holmes had been at home with with a friend, Matthew Burgess when Becker and Thorley arrived, followed by Hall and Hawira.
Thorley left to go to the nearby Kmart store due to "apparent animosity between her and Hawira".
At the unit, Becker "had the Magnum revolver out and was showing it" and was "off his chops", according to Burgess.
Shortly before 4pm, Hall drove Smith and Hawira to the Aldi supermarket.
While there, Hall moved the shortened shotgun from the Commodore's boot to beside the driver's seat.
At some point, Becker phoned Moorehead, alerting him to Hall's presence as he knew the deceased "had largely been avoiding Moorehead's calls" in relation to the hire car.
Moorehead arrived at the unit and he confronted Hall with Becker when the group returned from Aldi.
Moorehead said: "why haven't you called me, mate?".
Hall claimed he had called Moorehead and, as he said this, reached down beside him.
Becker approached the car and, reaching into his satchel bag, said: "get out of the f***ing car, mate".
Becker then shot Hall once in the abdomen.
Hall accelerated for several hundred metres before coming to a stop.
Hawira and Smith took Hall to the Tweed Hospital, 4km away.
Hall was left on the footpath outside the emergency department and despite being treated, he died a short time later.
Police attended and spoke to Hawira, while Smith drove away in the Commodore.
BECKER and Thorley had fled the scene together, staying that night in the Surfers Paradise unit.
According to Thorley's discussions with police, Becker went to the Nerang home of another associate and said he "probably just shot (Hall) in the toe or something".
"I didn't have (a) very good grip of it, so I probably just shot him in the toe," Becker had said.
Becker also asked if he could bury the revolver at the Nerang property.
This gun has never been recovered.
Becker had been washing the hired Corolla at a Jimboomba, Queensland, car wash at 3.58am on June 27.
He was arrested at 4.19am that morning and first faced court in Southport that day before being extradited to NSW.
In her police interview, Thorley described Becker as "very paranoid" due to his drug use: a paranoia that apparently "extended to his view of the deceased".
LOSS of blood caused by the gunshot wound was found to be Hall's cause of death.
The post-mortem revealed methylamphetamine at "moderately high levels" in his system.
The drug was not linked to his medical cause of death.
CROWN prosecutors have accepted Becker's plea to manslaughter on this basis that in shooting Hall, he "acted in self-defence which was excessive".
They agreed Becker "had been criminally involved with Moorehead and Dylan Smith and knew of criminal conduct of Hall and Smith" and that the men were all involved with the supply of methylamphetamine.
The Crown also accepted Becker knew about the shortened shotgun and was "aware of the possibility that it was in the possession of the deceased" and that Hall may have been "reaching for a firearm".
Becker is due to face Lismore District Court on March 1.