News

Fourth man charged in Toolara Forest skull case

A FOURTH man has been charged over the allegedly "horrific" last experiences of Shaun Barker, whose skull was found in Toolara Forest last April.

Two Cooloola Cove men, Stephen John Armitage, 45, and his son Matthew Leslie Armitage, 22, have already been charged - along with Gold Coast man William Francis Dean - with murder, torture, deprivation of liberty and interfering with a corpse.

Yesterday, a second Gold Coast man, Scott Healy, appeared in Southport Magistrates Court on charges of kidnapping, deprivation of liberty and torture.

Healy, 30, of Labrador, did not enter a plea, and was remanded to appear again next Wednesday for a bail hearing.

Detectives from the Gold Coast Southern Crime Group and the Homicide Investigation Group have been continuing their investigations into Mr Barker's disappearance in 2013.

His skull and other remains were found in Toolara Forest, near Cooloola Cove, on April 10 last year.

Police said they would allege Healy committed the offences between December 9 and 12, 2013.

Stephen Armitage was arrested last October at Brisbane Airport.

Dean had been living at Highfields, near Toowoomba, at the time of Mr Barker's death.

Police have alleged that Mr Barker, of Robina, was last seen alive at a Broadbeach service station and was kidnapped before being tortured at a Cooloola Cove home and murdered.

Forestry workers discovered Mr Barker's skull and other remains in the state forest on April 10, and police said there were signs the body had been burnt.

His car was found abandoned in Pacific Pines on the Gold Coast.

Prosecution allegations have included shocking claims that Mr Barker was put into an ice box, tortured, then zip-tied to a tree while honey was smeared over his genitals to attract ants, before being murdered.

His body was then allegedly burnt and dumped in the bush not far from Cooloola Cove.

Defence barrister Jeff Hunter said Matthew Armitage had no intention to kill Mr Barker.

"This is a case where a man's death came as a complete surprise to those involved. It certainly was not intentional," he said, describing the prosecution case as "weak and circumstantial, especially in relation to the murder charge".

There was no evidence his client had been violent towards the dead man, he said.

Gympie Times

Topics:  murder




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Mary Valley on show as date set for Boar premiere

Sunshine Coast film director Chris Sun is looking forward to his new movie "Boar" after the sucsess of his recent film Charlies Farm. Photo: Jason Dougherty / Sunshine Coast Daily

Nambour premiere set for October 29

It's going to be a warm one again

Sunny weather should continue next week.

Monday to be coolest this week with minimum of 5 degrees

JOBS BONANZA: Hundreds flood farm jobs website overnight

Jedaco Berries has a handful of the 6000 jobs ripe for the picking on strawberry farms this season.

6000 jobs for locals as campaign for farm workers heats up

Latest deals and offers


10 Things You Absolutely Have to do in Gympie in Autumn

NUMBER 7: Go beach camping at Inskip Point this autumn and you can watch the whales off Rainbow Beach or Double Island Point.

10 Things You Absolutely Have to do in the Gympie region in Autumn

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked