Court told of gambling habit

AN ALLEGED murderer’s ‘‘unstoppable’’ gambling habit drove him to shoot a ‘‘greedy’’ mate dead in remote Lake Leake bushland, a Hobart court has heard.

Kalangadoo man Stephen Roy Standage has pleaded not guilty to killing John Lewis Thorn in August 2006, or killing Ronald Frederick Jarvis 14 years earlier.

In day five of his closing address in the long-running criminal trial yesterday, Prosecutor Darryl Coates, SC, described Mr Standage as a man ‘‘desperate to have money to gamble’’.

Mr Coates contrasted the accused’s depleted bank balances with Mr Thorn’s wealth of assets.

The court heard in the months surrounding Mr Thorn’s murder, Mr Standage never had access to more than $2000 spread across his mother’s, partner’s and his own bank accounts.

Jurors were told he had earlier taken out a $37,000 mortgage against his home, spending the bulk of the money within two months.

‘‘From all that you can conclude the accused did not have much money to spend,’’ Mr Coates told the court.

‘‘However, we know the accused continued his gambling.’’

Jurors were told Mr Standage had earlier borrowed a significant sum of money from Mr Thorn, and there were tensions between the two men at the time of the crime.

The court heard Mr Thorn was known to carry thousands of dollars in his wallet, which was never recovered following the discovery of his body.

Mr Coates said Mr Standage also knew where cash was stashed at the victim’s Lake Leake property.

‘‘Not only did he know about the stash, he was talking about it soon after Mr Thorn’s murder was discovered,’’ he said.

Mr Coates told jurors on the day Mr Thorn’s body was found, the accused made six gambling-related phone calls.

The court heard he was also seen paying for bets with thick wads of cash taken from a wallet similar to Mr Thorn’s.

Earlier this week, Mr Coates told jurors Mr Standage’s gambling habit was also a critical factor in his decision to kill Mr Jarvis in 1992.

The trial continues on Monday.