Jury to consider its verdict

TWO MEN accused of being involved in the death of a 62-year-old hitchhiker may hear the jury's verdict today, after a trial spanning almost two weeks.

The Supreme Court trial of John Patrick Peterson and Seamus Matthew Smith started last Monday, after both men were allegedly involved in the murder of Stephen John Ward.

The itinerant man was last seen leaving the Matilda Service Station at Curra on August 4, 2008, and his badly-decomposed body was found by a trail-bike rider on Deveron Rd in the Bauple State Forest, in September that year.

Prosecutor Ben Power told the court Peterson was angry after Mr Ward made a homosexual pass at him, and admitted to hitting the victim between 20 and 30 times.

In his closing statements, Prosecutor Ben Power said it was clear Peterson's actions after the initial altercation on the highway meant that he intended Mr Ward to die.

"There is no doubt that Mr Ward was still alive - unconscious and helpless, but alive - when he was dumped in the bush," Mr Power said.

"Peterson was not content to leave him by the side of the highway where he might have got help.

"He put him, a badly-injured man, into the tray of a ute and drove him for up to 30 minutes over rough terrain into the forest."

Peterson pleaded not guilty to murder, while his co-accused Seamus Matthew Smith pleaded not guilty to accessory to murder.

The judge began her summary yesterday and will continue today before the jury is sent to consider its verdict.

Gympie Times

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