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Baden-Clay murder trial: Accused begged Queensland Government MP Bruce Flegg for $300,000, court told
The jury in Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder trial has been told the accused murderer begged Queensland Government MP Bruce Flegg for $300,000.
Baden-Clay, 43, a former Brisbane real estate agent, has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife Allison in April 2012.
The body of the mother of three was found on a creek bank under the Kholo Creek bridge at Anstead in Brisbane’s west, about 10 kilometres from the couple’s Brookfield home.
At the trial on Thursday, Susanne Heath testified that in 2012 she phoned the accused at the request of her friend Dr Flegg, who knew Baden-Clay through the local chamber of commerce.
Ms Heath, who helped the MP for Moggill with his real estate deals, says the accused was distressed throughout the phone call, explaining he was in “financial trouble”.
“He was distressed. I could just tell in his voice. He was normally very confident and he was genuinely really quite distressed,” she said.
She said Baden-Clay asked if Dr Flegg could lend him around $300,000.
“He said if he didn’t get it he would go broke or bankrupt and I just felt really sad because he seemed so successful,” Ms Heath said.
Ms Heath says she told Baden-Clay, whom she noted had impeccable manners, she was unsure whether the MP was in a position to help.
“I really didn’t know if Bruce was in that kind of position,” she said.
The court heard Ms Heath felt sorry for Baden-Clay, who reacted well to Ms Heath’s response.
The court heard the phone call took place one morning in March 2012, in the lead-up to the state election on March 24.
Startled scream from neighbour night before Allison disappeared
Also appearing at the trial on Thursday was Stephanie Apps, who with her family, lived about 180 metres from the Baden-Clays in 2012.
Ms Apps said she arrived home with her son and daughter, who had been arguing, about 10:00pm the night before Allison went missing.
“They were bickering in the back of the car … by the time we got home it was pretty explosive,” she said.
“I shouted for both of them to get inside the house.”
Ms Apps told the court her then 15-year-old daughter knocked over a pot and then ran to the top of the driveway where she stumbled into a spider’s web and screamed.
Describing the scream as “startled”, rather than “blood-curdling”, Ms Apps said she was concerned about neighbours hearing the commotion.
“I would say it was a short, sharp scream,” she said.
“I was actually cringing because the neighbourhood was very quiet and I was cringing because I was worried about the neighbours hearing it.”
Ms Apps told the court she reported the incident to police at Brookfield Showgrounds after Allison’s disappearance, but only provided a statement last weekend at the request of the defence.
‘Extremely implausible’ marks on face caused by a razor
Earlier on Thursday, a former forensic medical officer gave evidence in Brisbane’s Supreme Court relating to claims that scratches on the face of Baden-Clay were caused by a razor.
Dr Robert Hoskins provided his assessment based on photographs of Baden-Clay taken on the day he reported his wife missing.
The photos were taken by scenes of crime officer Anthony Vernados at Indooroopilly police station.
The images show several marks on Baden-Clay’s chest and between his neck and shoulder, as well as marks on his face.
Dr Hoskins told the court there were three broader, raggedy-edged marks on Baden-Clay’s face, which were characteristic of fingernail scratches.
While giving evidence, Dr Hoskins remarked that it was “extremely implausible” that the marks were caused by a razor, a device designed over the years to avoid injury.
Dr Hoskins said there were up to four smaller scratches below, which could have been caused by a razor.
He told the court the larger abrasions were most likely six to 24 hours old, while the smaller ones were about six hours old.
Under cross-examination, Dr Hoskins said it was “impossible to say with absolute certainty” the marks on Baden-Clay’s face were from fingernails.
Also appearing at the trial on Thursday was Queensland Health forensic officer Dr Leslie Griffiths who told the court he examined Baden-Clay on April 22, 2012.
He said he had never seen a facial injury like that on the accused caused by a razor.
“They’re abrasions, they’re not cuts,” he said.
He said marks on Baden-Clay’s neck “could be explained again by human fingers being drawn down the neck”.
However, Dr Griffiths said “there may be other explanations for that”.
“I can’t think of any but there may be,” he said.
Dr Griffiths said marks on Baden-Clay’s chest could have been caused by fabric being forced against skin, but could form no conclusions.
Dr Griffiths said he examined Baden-Clay again two months later and could still see the marks distinctly.
He said a shaving cut would have healed within a week, but two months later he could still see them on Baden-Clay’s face.
The court on Wednesday heard from forensic physician Dr Margaret Stark who described two types of injuries to Baden-Clay’s face, adding that the older of the two sets of abrasions were “typical” of fingernail scratches.
Baden-Clay ‘told to get injuries documented’
Earlier on Thursday, Taringa GP Dr Renu Kumar testified via telephone, telling the court she saw Baden-Clay on April 21, 2012.
She said she saw three areas of injury on his body – face, neck and chest.
Dr Kumar said Baden-Clay told her the marks on his face were from an old razor, the mark on his chest was from where he had scratched himself, and the mark on his neck was from where a caterpillar landed and he crushed it.
She said Baden-Clay also told her his wife had gone missing.
“He wasn’t teary, but he looked sad,” she said.
Under cross-examination, Dr Kumar said she wrote in her notes “in my opinion, the marks were inflicted on himself”.
“[Baden-Clay] told me his lawyer had told him to get his injuries documented,” she told the court.
Dr Kumar said the injuries on his face looked a bit wider than what a razor would normally cause, but it was possible.
“When you’re rushing you can injure yourself,” she said.
Dr Kumar was the second doctor Baden-Clay attended on April 21 with the court yesterday hearing from Kenmore GP Dr Candice Beaven.
Dr Beaven told the court that she did not recommend any treatment because the injuries appeared to be superficial.
She told the court that at least three times, the accused explained he had cut himself shaving.
The trial resumes on Monday.