Victims lured to bushland, court told

A MAN accused of two murders told undercover police officers one of the victims "probably got what he deserved", the Hobart Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Stephen Roy Standage, of Kalangadoo, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ronald Frederick Jarvis at Nugent in July 1992, and John Lewis Thorn at Lake Leake in August 2006.

Crown prosecutor Darryl Coates, SC, said the Crown would allege Mr Standage, 61, made admissions to police officers posing as members of a criminal gang he wished to join.

The court heard Mr Standage told undercover officers Mr Thorn was "a tight bastard" and said Mr Jarvis was his "milking cow" to borrow money from.

Mr Coates outlined what the Crown considers "striking similarities" between the two deaths. The Crown has alleged the two deaths were drug related, with both of the deceased involved in growing and selling cannabis.

The court heard both dead men were lured to "extremely remote" bushland before they were shot and their bodies dragged to their final resting place.

Mr Coates said wallets were stolen from both men, and each body was covered with two saplings in an effort to conceal them.

The Crown has alleged that Mr Standage was "the one common link" between the two deceased men.

The court heard that Mr Standage was the last person to see both victims alive and had threatened people who knew of his relationship with the two men.

Mr Coates said the accused had admitted the murders to a number of people and boasted about the crimes to friends.

The Crown has alleged that Mr Standage had a tendency of threatening people with whom he had a drug association.

"In particular, he has a tendency to take people to remote locations and threaten to kill them with a gun," Mr Coates said.

Justice Stephen Estcourt told the jury to consider each murder charge separately and give a separate verdict on each charge.

"There are effectively two trials going on here, two trials happening at once," Justice Estcourt said.

"Each count must be considered as a separate one."

Justice Estcourt told the jury to withhold judgment until evidence was heard in its entirety, urging them not to jump to any conclusions.

The prosecution is expected to complete its opening argument this morning before the defence gives its opening address.

The first of more than 200 witnesses will be called on Monday, with the trial expected to last several months.

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