A man and woman whose decomposed bodies were found locked in a toolbox in Queensland were allegedly lured to their deaths over a photograph taken of a New Zealand man, a court has heard.
Chilling details about the final hours of the pair have been detailed in the trial of four men accused of their murder.
Iuliana Triscaru, 31, and Cory Breton, 28, were found in the toolbox – weighed down with blocks and tyres – after it was pulled from a lagoon at Scrubby Creek, south of Brisbane, in 2016.
Trent Michael Thrupp, Davy Malu Junior Taiao, Stou Daniels and Waylon Ngaketo Cowan Walker have each pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.
Taiao, Thrupp and Daniels will also each fight two counts of torture.
It’s understood Taiao and Daniels are New Zealanders.
Three other New Zealanders have already been sentenced for their roles in the slayings. Tepuna Tupuna Mariri, 29, was jailed for 13 years after pleading to two counts of manslaughter and two counts of torture. Webbstar Latu, 31, has been sentenced to 12 years jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter for helping carry the toolbox. Ngatokoona Mareiti, 40, was sentenced to nine years after helping clean an apartment after the crime.
During his opening in the latest trial of four, crown prosecutor David Meredith told the jury Breton and Triscaru were lured to the unit in Kingston on January 24, 2016, where they were assaulted and tied up.
Meredith said the restrained pair were loaded into a large toolbox and placed on the back of a Toyota HiLux.
Detailed CCTV and digital videos were played to the court, showing various vehicles entering and leaving the Kingston unit complex that day.
Meredith said some of them included the HiLux used to transport the pair to Scrubby Creek and Breton’s vehicle, being driven into the complex by another person.
“You will see there is a convoy of five relevant vehicles that leaves the unit complex at about 8.30pm,” Meredith said.
“According to eyewitnesses at the units … the victims were still yelling and kicking on the [inside of the] toolbox as they left.”
Upon arriving at the creek, the toolbox was placed into the water, the court was told.
Breton and Triscaru’s decomposing bodies were retrieved from the water by police divers on February 11.
Meredith said rubbish had been placed on top of their bodies and discarded tape and zipties were found in the box.
“The box was fastened closed from the outside and there were concrete blocks and tyres on top of it,” Meredith said.
He said the bodies were so decomposed a pathologist could not determine whether the pair had died from drowning or asphyxiation.
Meredith said if the facts were true, the killing of the pair was “extraordinarily barbaric” and a “breathtakingly evil” act.
“These people were put into a toolbox and kept there for several hours, obviously fearing what might happen to them … [then] taken to a creek and drowned” he said.
The court was told Breton was lured to the unit over a drug dispute relating to a photo he had of Stou Daniels.
Meredith said Daniels became concerned about the photo and was suspicious Breton was trying to set the group up.
Toll records were shown to the court, allegedly showing the Toyota HiLux travelling along the highway towards Scrubby Creek.
Lawyers representing the defendants told the jury there were issues with key witnesses, saying they had histories of drug abuse and mental illnesses.
Defence barrister John Fraser, representing Daniels, told the jury they needed to focus on the evidence presented.
The trial, before Justice David Boddice, is set to run for four weeks.
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