Man lies to police about murder
A MAN charged with being an accessory to the 2008 murder of known drug dealer Saaid Zaiter at Chinderah admitted to lying to police and perjuring himself on the stand at Lismore Supreme Court yesterday because he feared for his life.
Todd Serone said ever since he was involved in transporting Zaiter's body from Chinderah after he was allegedly murdered by Rodney White on December 16 he feared repercussions against himself and his family.
Under examination by his barrister Bruce Walmsley, Serone told the court of being asked by White to transport a Landrover Discovery that belonged to Zaiter from his cabin at the Tweed Heritage Caravan Park to Barkers Vale before it was torched.
He said he then returned to the cabin at White's request with Peter Allison and Rick Humphries to help dispose of Zaiter's body.
Serone told the court how White admitted to him he murdered Zaiter.
"I got into a fight with Saaid and Saaid is dead," Serone said White told him.
Serone said when he questioned White he said "I'm not joking".
After four days of living with the guilt of his involvement Serone said he received a threatening phone call from White.
"He said 'I have heard someone has gone to the police. If I find out it's you I am going to kill you'," Serone said.
When asked while under cross examination by crown prosecutor Jeff McLennan why he repeatedly lied in a police interview in February 2009, Serone said he regretted his actions.
"I was still in fear of my life. I wish I had told police everything from the beginning."
"I am still getting threatened in here."
Mr McLennan went on to question Serone's phone records which showed four calls were made to a phone owned by Zaiter in the days following his death.
"Why would you call the phone of a dead man," Mr McLennan asked Serone.
"To distance myself from what I had just done," Serone answered.
Week six of the eight week trial continues today at Lismore Court.