Standage 'owed victim money'

THE friend of a murdered cannabis dealer received a "cold, impersonal" phone call from the man accused of killing the man soon after his disappearance, a Hobart court has heard.

Gregory James Sward gave evidence in the Hobart Supreme Court yesterday in the murder trial of 61-year-old Stephen Roy Standage.

Mr Standage has pleaded not guilty to killing Ronald Frederick Jarvis, 37, at Nugent, in July 1992 and John Lewis Thorn, 59, at Lake Leake, in August 2006.

Mr Sward had been a friend of Mr Jarvis since high school, had shared a house with him and worked alongside him.

The court heard about a year before he disappeared, Mr Jarvis had told Mr Sward someone named Standage owed him $7000.

"Ron told me that Standage owed him either $7000 or `a couple of elbows', either on a fishing trip or in the ute on the way up to Strahan," Mr Sward said.

Mr Jarvis referred to the debt several times.

"He didn't seem anxious about it, he seemed to think he was going to get it ... either in cannabis or in money," Mr Sward said.

Mr Sward said soon after Mr Jarvis went missing, he asked around town to see if anybody had seen him, as he was "getting quite concerned" about his missing mate.

The court heard that soon afterward, Mr Sward received a phone call from the accused.

"He said: `You've been asking questions about Ron'," Mr Sward said.

Mr Sward said when he put to Mr Standage that he was supposed to have been the last person to see Mr Jarvis alive he responded: "I could kill the c--- for all the grief he's given me."

Earlier, defence and prosecution lawyers finished examining Geoffrey Jarvis, the brother of one of the murdered men.

Mr Jarvis said his late brother spoke of a debt owed to him by "a man on the East Coast" in the months before his disappearance.

Mr Jarvis told the court his brother was becoming "more and more agitated" about the debt, believing the man who owed him money was stalling him.