The murder of Marcus Luke Tucker was a case of mistaken identity, the Crown alleged at the start of the trial of Peter John Carroll in the High Court at Christchurch.
Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier alleged that the fatal bashing by Carroll occurred in retribution for an earlier drugs robbery. She said someone nicknamed “Ruckus” had carried out the robbery – it was Tucker’s nickname, too, but he had not done the robbery.
The Crown will call evidence from 41 witnesses in the one-to-two-week trial before Justice Nicholas Davidson. It alleges 36-year-old Tucker was bashed to death at a house in Addington on April 24, 2016, and his bashed and burnt body with wrists and ankles tied, was found wrapped in carpet in a drain near Lake Ellesmere the next day.
Justice Davidson told the jury some of the evidence may be hard for the jurors to hear, and may upset them, but they must stay composed and remain objective in their work. He explained to the jury that Carroll had gone on trial for the murder earlier this year, but the trial had been stopped early and had not reached a verdict.
Carroll denies the charge of murder. His defence counsel, Tim Fournier, said Carroll accepted that he caused the death but he would say he had no intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. Carroll would give evidence to say that what happened that day “got completely out of control”.
“He intended to cause bodily injury, but he is not accepting that he knew that as a result of assault Mr Tucker, he was likely to die.” This was not murder, but simply manslaughter, he said.
Miss Boshier said a man, who knew Carroll, had been robbed of methamphetamine and ecstasy he was dealing in, by three gun-wielding men. The drugs would have been sold for $10,000.
The victim thought he knew the robbers were associated with a gang called NHC, and one of them was named Ruckus. He wanted Ruckus “roughed up” or his “head taken off”.
Carroll and a friend found out that Marcus Tucker was at an address in Addington, and he was introduced to one of them as “Ruckus”.
“Unfortunately for Mr Tucker, he was not the Ruckus involved in the robbery,” Miss Boshier said.
People knew that Tucker had been using forged $100 notes to buy drugs.
Carroll went to the Addington house with a heavy metal steering lock, and began bashing Tucker while he lay in bed asleep. The beating continued while he screamed for help and begged for it to stop.
At least six blows were landed on his head, fracturing the back of his skull. He also had injuries to his face including a broken nose and eye socket, teeth missing and broken, and a broken shoulder blade. He died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Carroll’s friend texted about having the “prize” for the robbery victim who then met Carroll near Ellesmere where the body was doused in petrol and set alight because Carroll said he wanted to get rid of traces of his own DNA. It was found burning there by fishermen on Anzac Day 2016.
After the murder, items were cleaned or burned and the steering lock was buried at another property where it was later found.
Miss Boshier said traces of Tucker’s blood were found on Carroll’s shoes and in the boot of the borrowed car he was using. Blood was found on the steering lock but it could not be identified.
She told the jury that Carroll could be found guilty if he meant to kill Tucker, or if he intended to cause bodily injury and was reckless as to whether death ensued. Murder would also be proved if the jury found that Carroll had intended to cause grievous bodily harm to facilitate another serious crime such as kidnapping or robbery.
Carroll was seen later that day with blood on his hands and clothing, by a woman who knew him. Miss Boshier said he was “amped up and pacing”. Carroll told that witness: “He got what he deserved and it’s all in the past now.”
The trial is continuing.