New charges in Zaiter murder
THE BODY has not been found, but Lismore man Ricky Leigh Humphries has become the second man to be charged with murdering suspected drug dealer Saaid Zaiter, 47, at Chinderah on December 16 last year, with more details emerging on the murky puzzle in Lismore Local Court.
Humphries, 26, and his Ballina Road housemate Matthew Grahame Warner, 25, both appeared yesterday, Warner charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder.
Police allege he knew Rodney Boyd White had murdered Mr Zaiter and later assisted him.
White, 47, was extradited from Victoria to Sydney last week and appeared in Central Local Court charged with Mr Zaiter's murder.
White is believed to have been living in Chinderah at the time of the suspected homicide.
Humphries did not apply for bail and calls of 'love you Ricky' were made by one of a group of women in the public gallery as he left the dock.
Warner's lawyer, Megan Cusack, applied for bail, strongly opposed by prosecutor Sergeant Steve Gerrish.
Sgt Gerrish said it was a complicated case involving phone taps, interstate arrests and 120 witnesses, with other people of interest still at large.
“It is a circumstantial case as the body has never been located, but as from December 16 the victim has dropped off the planet,” he said.
Police documents before the court revealed a burnt out Land Rover Discovery, found at Barkers Vale on December 16 last year, had been loaned to Mr Zaiter by his niece. Mr Zaiter had made no contact with family or friends, or accessed his bank accounts since the Land Rover was found.
Sgt Gerrish said blood evidence found in a cabin at a Chinderah caravan park and the burning of the Land Rover indicated to police Mr Zaiter was dead.
“Rodney White told him (Warner) he had murdered the victim and asked him to go back to the cabin and conceal evidence of that murder,” Sgt Gerrish said.
He said there was strong evidence of a 'cover-up' and that Warner went to the caravan park cabin where a carpet, which the prosecutor alleged held bloodstains, was removed and the cabin's interior cleaned.
In objecting to bail, Sgt Gerrish said Warner had a history of violence and had failed to appear in court on previous unrelated matters. Police feared he could interfere with witnesses.
Ms Cusack described the case against her client as weak, saying White asked Warner to go to the Chinderah cabin but nothing had happened at the cabin.
Ms Cusack said there was no allegation Warner removed the carpet, no indication White had told him about Mr Zaiter and her client's knowledge, at most, was that he perhaps thought someone had been bashed.
Magistrate Michael Dakin also described it as a circumstantial case, adding that Mr Zaiter was suspected of being involved in the manufacture and distribution of drugs between Sydney and the Gold Coast.
The police perception that Mr Zaiter was dead was well-founded, particularly as blood spatters in the cabin matched his DNA, he said.
“The allegation is that a drug transaction was to take place and there was a dispute and Zaiter was assaulted in the cabin and killed there or at some other place,” Mr Dakin said.
“He (Warner) is said to have assisted in the clean-up of the cabin and disposing of evidence.”
Mr Dakin refused bail and adjourned the matters to November 17.