A pathologist has accepted that murder victim Bradley Alan Lomax may also have been shot in the face with a .22 calibre weapon – a wound near his lip that was missed at the autopsy.
Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage accepted responsibility. He told the jury on the fifth day of the murder trial in the High Court at Christchurch: “I have to take responsibility if I have failed to identify it.”
There was also a sign of a possible second .22 round, found inside the hood that Lomax was wearing when his body was found lying near Harrs Road, on a gravel track in the Waimakariri riverbed on September 4, 2017.
Shotgun pellets from four blasts were scattered through his leg, body, and in his face – his facial structure had been “demolished” by shots to both eye sockets.
Three shotgun cartridges had contained birdshot but the fourth – which struck the face – had contained a solid shot.
Kasha William Gosset, 37, of Oxford, and Cody Derek Martin, a 31-year-old drainlayer from Mairehau, both deny the joint charges of murdering Bradley Alan Lomax at Kaiapoi on September 4, 2017. They blame each other for Lomax’s killing.
Lomax was hit by blasts to the thigh, breaking his thigh bone, his upper arm which sent pellets into his chest striking his lung and heart, and blasts to each eye socket.
There was spent and unspent .22 ammunition nearby, in an area which was known for “fairly undisciplined shooting” of animals and targets, he said.
Dr Sage said a defence pathologist in Britain had supplied a report suggesting an injury near the right corner of the mouth which could be an entrance wound from a .22 rifle discharge. The scan showed a particle that did not appear to be an aggregation of shotgun pellets.
The other .22 bullet, found in the parka, might be a bullet from a .22 shot to the face which had been “displaced” by a subsequent shotgun blast.
“There is certainly one discharged .22 bullet, and there may well be two. The second one I failed to locate. Neither of these .22 discharges have contributed to his cause of death,” said Dr Sage.
He could not not give a definite order in which the shots had been fired.
The most logical interpretation was that Lomax had been shot in the leg, which had brought him down, and then shot in the side. Someone had then gone up close and finished him off with a shot in both eye sockets. “But it doesn’t have to have happened in that order,” he said.
Both shots to the eye sockets had been fired at close range. The wound to the left eye contained the plastic wad from the shotgun cartridge. There were no burn marks at the wound edges, but it was not possible to estimate the range without test firing the same weapon. This was outside his area of expertise.
Dr Sage has completed his evidence-in-chief and will be cross-examined by defence counsel on Tuesday morning.
The Crown is calling evidence from 37 witnesses in the trial, which will take more than two weeks.