Journalistic Inquiry: Court Reporting

“I Think I’ve Killed Him”

11th August 2016, Brisbane Supreme Court

A miner who allegedly stood over his friend’s corpse saying, “I hit him too hard, I hit him too hard, I think I’ve killed him,” pleads not guilty of murder in Brisbane’s Supreme Court.

44-year-old Shane David Lee was charged of brutally robbing and murdering his former Kilcoy housemate, Brian Smith, who had recently inherited $150, 000 from an uncle.
Lee entered a plea of guilty to improper interference with a corpse and unlawful possession of a motor vehicle belonging to the victim’s estranged wife.

Crown prosecutor David Meredith stated that on 7th September 2012, Jeffrey Swarzes returned to his household in Bray Park to find Lee standing over his friend’s lifeless body.

Meredith said that Lee immediately packed his bags, stole Brian’s wife’s car and fled to Adelaide without contacting the police, as he “thought he would be blamed.”

Lee later told a “ludicrous story” about five “thugs” arriving at Bray Park with guns, demanding money from Brian.

Lee had claimed he “had a dizzy spell and passed out. When he recovered, he found Brian unconscious or dead,” the prosecutor said.

Six days later, Smith’s corpse was found wrapped in a plastic bag in a badly decomposed state, clearly suffering from four broken ribs.

Mr Meredith said that Swarzes, one of 64 witnesses, indicated that the accused had previously said to him, “Don’t worry, our money problems will be over shortly.”

Smith’s wife, Belinda, added that Lee had once asked her whether she wanted him to “force Brian to give (her) the money.”

Meredith stated that the accused accompanied Smith when he withdrew $300 on the same day as his death, however the body was found without cash or wallet.

Throughout the duration of the trial, Lee remained composed and expressionless, averting his eyes from all photographic evidence of the decomposed body and the house in Bray Park.

The trial continues as Justice Martin Daubney adjourned the case, expecting Lee’s sentence to be announced the following week.