Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Man denies Snowtown murders involvement

The disused bank where human remains were stored in barrels.

The fourth man accused in the 'bodies-in-the-barrels' murders in South Australia has told the Supreme Court he and his wife were trying to have a baby at the time she was murdered.

Mark Ray Haydon is charged with the murder of his wife Elizabeth and another man, as well as assisting convicted serial killers John Bunting and Robert Wagner to dispose of bodies. He has pleaded not guilty and today gave evidence for the first time.

When asked by his lawyer Marie Shaw if he had been involved in the murders of Troy Youde and his wife Elizabeth, Haydon answered "no". He also answered "no" when asked if he had ever heard of three of the men killed by Bunting, Wagner and the third man convicted of the murders, James Vlassakis.

It is alleged he helped the trio torture and murder Troy Youde at a Murray Bridge house in 1998. Haydon told the jury he had not seen Mr Youde during that entire year.

Haydon said he was not aware that the bodies of eight people were being stored inside six barrels, found in May 1999 inside a disused bank vault at Snowtown, north of Adelaide.

The Crown alleges Haydon helped the three men move the bodies of eight of their victims inside barrels.

By Just Us 10 October 04

Some Snowtown Murders History and I interpolate some new ideas about this case.

Rural Snowtown, about 150 kilometres north of Adelaide, is home to between 500 to 600 people - hardworking, peaceful country folk. But on Thursday 20th May, 1999, that traditional, restful persona was shattered.

In the final stages of a complex, year-long missing persons investigation, police entered the former Snowtown branch of the State Bank of South Australia, which was no longer in service. The red brick building in the town's main street proved to be a chamber of horrors. Six black plastic barrels or "vats" were located behind the old bank vault's 10-cm thick metal door. They contained acid and human body parts from eight different victims, including 15 human feet. Police information suggested the victims' remains had been in storage there for at least three months.

The day after the Snowtown find, police swooped early on three northern suburbs addresses. Three men were each charged with one count of murder "of a person unknown between August 1, 1993 and May 20, 1999." John Justin Bunting, 32, Robert Joe Wagner, 27, and Mark Ray Haydon, 40 were arrested with an expectation that more charges would later be laid.

By Sunday the 23rd June, police were searching for more bodies. They arrived at a former residence of Bunting's and located a human body at a depth of about 2 metres, secured in two separate plastic bags. The arrests and searches were the culmination of long months of behind-the-scenes preparation.

The three subjects of the initial inquiry were Barry Wayne Lane, a 40-year-old transvestite and convicted paedophile who vanished in October 1997, his friend Clinton Douglas Trezise, who was last seen in 1993 at the age of 22, and mother of eight, Elizabeth Haydon, declared missing in 1999, aged 37, and married to one of the accused.

Linking these identities and their last known movements and associates, had ultimately led the investigators north to the bank vault. Wednesday the 26th brought another twist to the case. A second, older body was located, buried virtually under the first. Digging again, police discovered skeletal remains about 3 metres down, this time not enclosed in plastic. The body count had climbed to ten.

On 3rd July, 1999, Robert Joe Wagner, 27, John Justin Bunting, 32 and Mark Ray Haydon, 40, were jointly charged with 10 counts of murder.

Previously, they had been charged with the alleged murder of a "person unknown." Also charged was James Spyridon Vlassakis, 19, on charges of murdering a person who was not named. That person, allegedly, was the final victim of the other men. No charges were laid over the death of Clinton Trezise, 22. Investigation into his death is continuing.

Documents tendered to the court allege that the murders took place between January 1, 1995, and May 21 this year, at Snowtown, Salisbury North and places as yet unnamed. The defendants were remanded to reappear in October.

In July, 2002, one of the four men charged with the Snowtown murders, 22-year-old James Vlassakis, pleaded guilty to four counts of murder in the Adelaide Supreme Court.

In handing down a life sentence with a 26-year non-parole period, the judge said that if Vlassakis had not co-operated with police? and authorities? then he would have received a non-parole period of 42 years?

Could he have accepted an offer to good to refuse? Perhaps the reason why the worst cases should get to the Highest Court! (Aggressively Sceptical)?

The trial of the remaining three men charged with 12 murders is expected to take place later in 2002.

In November, 2000, the court began to hear the evidence against the four men charged with what may be the largest serial killing in Australian history.

Three of the men -- Haydon, Wagner and Bunting -- were charged with 10 counts of murder. The three men remained silent during the opportunity to plea, which was interpreted as a not-guilty plea.

Vlassakis was charged with five counts of murder and reserved his plea.

Because of a suppression order by the court, very little is publicly known about this case?

However, some grisly details were beginning to emerge. When police found the eight bodies in the bank vault, they realized that the victims had been tortured, then murdered by strangulation or asphyxiation.

The Telegraph in the U.K. reported: "Several were found with gags stuffed in their mouths. Others had ropes around their necks. Feet and limbs had been chopped off and there were burns on some of the bodies... The killings were allegedly carried out as part of a macabre social security fraud...

But Wendy Abraham QC, opening the prosecution case, said the four had collected the welfare benefits and disability allowances of their dead victims.

They even impersonated some of those they had killed to conduct banking transactions or to deal with the social security office. Before being murdered, some of the victims were made to repeat scripted phrases, which were taped and left on the answering machines of their relatives and friends to divert suspicion from their disappearance, she said.

So obviously Wendy Abraham QC had circumstantial proof of welfare payments? One wonders why then Mark Ray Haydon the person above is pleading his innocence and why the case was not held in public?

And why because of a suppression order, very little is publicly known about this case -- to prove what Wendy Abraham QC had alleged was in fact true and whether that fact means they killed the deceased? And why those who pleaded innocent to the worst case never got an appeal to the High Court for the worst crime when the crown spent 20 million dollars to convict them?

Also located in the bank and vault were...handcuffs, a set of knives, ropes and tape, a number of rubber gloves and a machine which was capable of giving an electric shock." Miss Abraham said: "A number had been dismembered, with legs and feet removed from their bodies, or they had been cut. One had his hands handcuffed behind his back and his legs tied together. More than one of the bodies had marks consistent with burn marks."

In the South Australian Supreme Court on 27 September 2002, Robert Wagner pleaded guilty to murdering Barry Lane between October and November 1997 at Hectorville, Frederick Brooks in September 1998 at Murray Bridge and David Johnson on 9 May 1999 at Snowtown. Wagner maintained not guilty pleas in relation to a further eight counts of murder and one count of assisting an offender.

Justin Bunting is still facing 12 counts of murder, while Mark Haydon now faces three counts of murder after Justice Brian Martin ruled that there was insufficient evidence to put him on trial for another nine killings.


20 Million for trial and no Legal Aid to appeal?
Australia's worst serial killer, John Justin Bunting, has been refused legal aid in his efforts to win leave to appeal his sentence. Why don't we want to know the truth?

No Legal Aid to appeal worst case?
John Bunting and Robert Wagner have lost a bid to appeal against their murder convictions because they were denied Legal Aid? South Australian serial killers John Bunting and Robert Wagner have lost their bid to appeal against their multiple murder convictions over the infamous 'bodies-in-the-barrels' murders because as serious as this case is they were denied a proper defence to appeal because they were not granted Legal Aid.