Murder victim's genitals smeared in honey to attract ants

Cooloola Cove man Matthew Leslie Armitage is one of three people accused of murdering Shaun Barker and dumping his body near Gympie.
Cooloola Cove man Matthew Leslie Armitage is one of three people accused of murdering Shaun Barker and dumping his body near Gympie. Contributed

SHOCKING details have been revealed of how a man was allegedly kidnapped, put into an esky, tortured, then zip-tied to a tree while honey was smeared over his genitals to attract ants, and then murdered.

Shaun Barker's body was then allegedly burnt and dumped in bushland near Tin Can Bay, where it was discovered earlier this year by forestry workers.

Cooloola Cove man Matthew Leslie Armitage, 22, has been charged with the murder, torture and deprivation of liberty of the 33-year-old Gold Coast dad in December last year.

He is one of three people, alongside his father Stephen John Armitage, 45, and William Francis Dean, 37, who have been charged over Mr Barker's death.


TORTURED: Shaun Barker.
TORTURED: Shaun Barker.

Crown prosecutor Jennifer O'Brien told Brisbane Supreme Court during Matthew Armitage's bail application yesterday that Mr Barker had endured days of torture before his death.

She said torture acts allegedly committed against Mr Barker included breaking bones, drugging him, depriving him of water, and pouring petrol on his head with threats to set him alight.

"He has clearly been involved, or at the very least present, with his co-accused in the lead-up to Mr Barker's death," Ms O'Brien said.


Matthew Leslie Armitage’s grandmother (third from right) leaving court after his unsuccessful bail attempt.
Matthew Leslie Armitage’s grandmother (third from right) leaving court after his unsuccessful bail attempt. Adam Davies


"He also poses an unacceptable flight risk given the charges he is facing, and there is an unacceptable risk he could interfere with witnesses."

Defence barrister Jeff Hunter said Armitage was a young man with no previous convictions and strong ties to the community.

He said Armitage was required to work in the family business, which would go bust if he was not granted bail.

"This is a case where a man's death came as a complete surprise to those involved ... it certainly was not intentional," he said.

"There is no evidence my client was ever violent towards the deceased man.

"We maintain the case against my client is a weak and circumstantial one, especially in relation to the murder charge."

Justice David Boddice was not persuaded by the argument and agreed Armitage posed too much of a flight risk to be released on bail ahead of his trial.

He said there was ample evidence against Armitage that, when viewed overall, could lead to a murder conviction.

"A person convicted of murder faces a mandatory life sentence," Justice Boddice said.

"Therefore there is a strong incentive for someone to flee the jurisdiction so as not to face those charges."

Armitage, who was present in court for the hearing, wiped tears from his eyes when his application was rejected and waved to family members present in court before being taken back into custody.

Gympie Times

Topics:  court editors picks gympie murder tin can bay

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