Jake McKenzie leaves Brisbane Supreme Court after giving evidence in the trial of Linda Eileen Appleton and John Edward Harris, who have pleaded not guilty to murdering mother-of-tour Tia Landers at Brighton on June 16, 2014.
Jake McKenzie leaves Brisbane Supreme Court after giving evidence in the trial of Linda Eileen Appleton and John Edward Harris, who have pleaded not guilty to murdering mother-of-tour Tia Landers at Brighton on June 16, 2014. DAN PELED/AAP

'It was like something out of a chainsaw massacre'

AS HE described a bloodied woman limping down a hallway trying to escape her alleged torturers, a Beerwah man told a jury it was "like something out of chainsaw massacre".

Jake McKenzie, who claimed his feet and hands were tied up because he was "a threat", said he saw his friend Tia Landers attacked with a machete, a bayonet-like knife, shot twice with a handgun and then smothered with a plastic shopping bag "to finish her off".

In what was a heated environment in Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday, Mr McKenzie often spoke directly to the couple responsible for holding him captive in 2014.

"Do you remember this, John? 'It's just a scratch, you've got plenty of blood to bleed, go have a cold shower if you're worried about it.' Remember those words," he said chillingly when asked about cuts and gashes on Ms Landers's body.

Linda Eileen Appleton and John Edward Harris have pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Landers at Brighton on June 16, 2014.

They have pleaded guilty to interfering with a corpse and guilty to depriving alleged witnesses Mr McKenzie, 24, and Ryan Morgan, 21, of their liberty.

Ms Landers's body was found wrapped in a blanket in a shallow grave in Beerburrum forest in July 2014.

Mr McKenzie told the court Mr Harris was a drug dealer and that was the reason he and Ms Landers went to the house.

He said he went to fetch the key to Ms Landers's safe box when he heard a commotion and banged on the door to get back in to his friend.

Mr McKenzie testified he was confronted with an "intimidating" 60-70cm machete when Ms Appleton finally opened the door. 

"She was just stab happy, she was hungry to use it," he said.

"John was on top of Tia ... with a knife in one hand and choking her with the other.

"It was either get taped or get hit with a machete."

Mr McKenzie told the court Ms Appleton taped him up while Tia continued wrestling with Mr Harris on the floor.

He said Ms Appleton then hit Ms Landers across the leg with the machete.

"I was shocked ... it opened the whole top of her leg up," he said.

"It was a very sharp machete and a very big wound."

"It had gone from a fight to serious now.

"(She was) strangled till she passed out and she stopped moving.

"I thought she had died."

When asked further about the machete act, Mr McKenzie said there was "no nine-iron swing for a six" but it was no accident.

"It was swung intentionally to do damage, but everyone was baffled at how much damage it did," he said.

Vision of the couple's home showed a large swastika flag adorning the wall of the room where much of the alleged violence occurred.

Mr McKenzie said the house was also decorated with swords and other blades that the occupants occasionally used.

He described how the night went in stages where things might be quiet and "then there'd be something to flare up the situation".

He said the next flare up was when Ms Landers began moving again.

"I honestly thought he killed her, that's why I was trying to get the tape off," he said.

"She was frightened, she was scared, she had come to."

 

Deceased woman Tia Landers who a court heard was attacked with a machete and then shot in the head. (Contributed)
Deceased woman Tia Landers who a court heard was attacked with a machete and then shot in the head. (Contributed) Contributed

When asked what Ms Appleton was doing, Mr McKenzie said: "Probably something putrid like kick her in the head or jump on her or something like that".

"The machete wasn't used much after the first big slice but there was a knife, a really heavy steel knife," he said.

"There were swords supposed to be hanging up on the wall as a display piece but they were sharpened and used as a battle axe.

"All I remember thinking is that it looked like one of the ones from World War Two that clipped on to the gun ... a bayonet.

"It was black, long and heavy, I could hear it as (Ms Appleton) smashed it into Tia's skull ... to terrorise her, be the dominant one.

"There were numerous little cuts and gashes.

"It was torment, it wasn't a complete stab and the whole knife would disappear into her body but just the tip of it would go in, not enough to make her bleed out but ... pain.

"It was mainly Linda, Linda was the problem.

"John had hate and revenge and all that sort of stuff but Linda was the instigator, there was some bad blood there.

"Both of them caused the injuries to Tia."

When describing the moment Tia tried to escape out the front door, he said she was limping from a sword wound to her foot.

"It was f***ed up; all her toes were curled over, tendons were cut, it was just savage," he said.

"At that point you could tell that even if she was to survive, she'd never walk again.

"She had her head stomped in that many times that (Tia) had no teeth left.

"It didn't even look like Tia, her head was double the size from swelling.

"She was kind of aware of what was happening.

"Although she didn't want to die, she was aware her injuries were too far gone.

"She said numerous times she was still in love with John but I think she said that as a way to try and stop getting hurt.

"Linda was being the boss lady with the machete, she was getting off on having control."

Methylamphetamine was smoked and injected throughout the night, with even Ms Landers smoking marijuana in a bong at one point, Mr McKenzie told the court.

It was after Ms Landers asked to go to the toilet that the gun with silencer allegedly came out, the court heard.

"Within 30 seconds he had her head and pulled the trigger," he said.

"She survived the first one and I think to all of our amazement she still was trying to say 'no' and then the second bang was a lot louder, that's when the music got turned up and she was pretty much dead.

"Linda walked out (of the kitchen) with a big smile on her face, had a little giggle that she had two bullets in her head and was still moaning so she had to put a bag over her head.

"A shopping bag, a plastic bag. That's how they finished her off."

When asked questions about Mr Harris's drug use, Mr McKenzie said they were both significant drug users.

"Drugs wasn't the reason he killed someone, he's the reason why, he did it willingly," he said.

Mr McKenzie denied suggestions from Ms Appleton's lawyer that she told Tia she would not let Mr Harris kill her.

"No, she enjoyed every minute of Tia getting shot," he said.

He also denied suggestions Ms Appleton only ever punched Tia after the initial machete incident.

"You will get what's coming for you," he shouted at the pair as he left the court.

- ARM NEWSDESK



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