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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.

Topics:  murder

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