The Queen v Adam Filippone [2016] NTS C67 (24 March 2017)

Greg Walsh acted for Adam Filippone (‘The Accused”) who was charged with murdering Peter Wayne Murphy (“The Deceased”) on 17 August 2008. In the alterative, he was charged with one count of assisting Gregory Alan Russell (“Russell”), who had committed the murder in order to enable Russell to escape prosecution. Russell committed suicide on 7 May 2010 and was never charged for the homicide.

The Deceased resided in Central Australia. He had for some time lived and worked in Yuendumu Community. In the six (6) weeks prior to his death he had been living in Alice Springs.

The Deceased went missing on or about 17 August 2008. The Crown case was that between August 2008 and May 2010 Adam Filippone and Russell had relocated to Queensland in late 2008. Prior to his suicide, Russell spoke to his then partner, Wendy Hassett, who recorded that conversation. Russell admitted killng the Deceased and said that “Wog” (Adam Filippone) was present and involvéd in the killing. He marked the map depicting where the murder took place and where the Deceased’s body could be found. Police then located the Deceased remains in a shallow grave.

The autopsy established that the Deceased suffered two bullet holes to the left side of his skull and blunt force trauma to his left cheek.

Adam Filippone was extradited to the Northem Territory from Queensland on 15 May 2010. According to Sergeant Richardson, who had taken over the “cold case” investigation against Adam Filippone, he the Accused had given a hypothetical scenario in which though not responsible for the murder was present when the Deceased was killed. That conversation was not recorded.

The Crown provided Notices under s.67 of the Evidence (National Uniform Legislation) Act (NT) (“UEA”) of the Crown’s intention to adduce hearsay evidence. Objection was taken to the admission of part of the evidence including the alleged verbal conversation on 15 May 2010 between Adam Filippone and Richardson.

In the course of voir dire, a number of crown witnesses gave evidence. These were Gemma Beattie, Peter Goodwin, Tamara Murphy, Wendy Hassett and Detective Sergeant David Richardson. Blokland J set out in her judgment the outline of facts giving rise to the issues to be determined on the voir dire (9-54).

The evidence disclosed that Tamara Murphy, the wife of the Deceased, had spoken to Russell on a number of occasions and was highly critical of the Deceased. She said to Russell “Somebody needs to bump him offbut he was that much of a tightass, he only had a $100, 000 life insurance policy”. The Deceased told Tamara Murphy that it would cost $10,000 to “knock off” the Deceased.

On 18 June 2008 Russell handed Tamara Murphy a small silver hand gun wrapped in a shirt. She placed it in a safe in her bedroom. Her boyfriend, Adam Moore, and her son Lee Murphy both saw the pistol in that safe.

The Deceased was a heavy gambler and was also involved in drugs. Russell told others that the Deceased owed him money.

On 17 August 2008, at about 8:00am, Adam Filippone, Steve Williams, Rodney Mosley and Thomas Spence, started working at the Target project “topping” floors. At about 9:00am Russell received the firearm from Tamara Murphy. He told her that he was going to go to 17 Standley Crescent to do his washing. Her Honour then sets out in detail the facts as they unfolded as it were. On 17 August 2008 the Deceased asserted that he was working at the Target project from about 7:30am-8:00am until 5:30pm-6:00pm. He thus could not have accompanied Russell in picking him up from the Town and County Hotel and taking him approximately 90 odd kilometres to the Plenty Highway where he was assaulted and shot. Telstra records showed that there were no calls made by the Accused on his mobile phone between 12:02pm and 3: 14pm. According to Steve Williams the group worked half a day and they did not finish at the site until between 1:00pm and 2:00pm. The security guard on the site confirmed no workmen were present at the site when he inspected it at 2:00pm.

According to Leisa Ford, at about 1:30pm, she saw Russell’s vehicle travelling on the Stuart Highway and two other males in the front of the vehicle. She identified two of the males as Russell and Adam Filippone.

As her Honour set out in the judgment, Gemma Beattie and Wendy Hassett played active roles in respect of cleaning the possible murder weapon and it being buried in a shed floor at Wendy Hassett’s home.

The Crown’s case that the Accused and Russell were good mates and frequently had contact with each other.

Adam Filippone was arrested in Queensland on 1 1 May 2010 and extradited to Alice Springs. On the plane to Alice Springs, Detective Richardson alleged that he spoke to Adam Filippone, who in effect was present when the Deceased was killed by Russell.

Blokland J referred to Conway v The Queen [2000] FCA 461; (2000) 98 FCA 204 and the High Court decision in Sio v The Oueen [2016] HCA 32 at [68], [70] and [71].

Blokland J excluded a number of items in the hearsay Notices. In respect of the representations made by Russell to Wendy Hassett on or about 7 May 2010 that he, Russell, had killed the Deceased and that the Accused had helped him, her Honour said:

“Further, the way the recorded conversation commenced reeks of a setup or staged conversation, “Hassett: What happened? Tell me. I ‘m going through hell Greg… with… You fuckin gotta tell me what’s happened. Be honest. I know someone else was with you. What happened? Just tell me “.

Her Honour made a finding that Wendy Hassett had not satisfactorily explained why the conversation commenced in this manner. Her diary notes indicate detailed interactions with Police including a discussion to the effect that she may go to prison, that she knew Police had spoken to others including Adam Filippone and that she would help Police obtain a confession from Russell. Her Honour was not satisfied as to the reliability of the circumstances in which any of the representations against Adam Filippone were made. In fact her Honour found that the representations were made positively unreliable. Her Honour noted that in Sio it is not the truthfulness of the witness or the representation that this is the focus but rather the circumstance in which the representation is made.

In respect of the conversation between Sergeant Richardson and Adam Filippone, on 15 May 2010, her Honour rejected the admission of this conversation. The circumstances in which the alleged conversation purportedly took place were indeed extraordinary. Sergeant Richardson took no note of the alleged conversation in the plane between himself and Adam Filippone. According to Richardson he told Filippone that he would only record the conversation in an interview. The Accused told him that he wanted to speak to his Lawyer, Richardson arrived back in Alice Springs with the Accused on the afternoon of 15 May 2010. He made no note of the conversation (according to Richardson he was being fair as he could to the Accused). Richardson in the voir dire said that he was not relying on the conversation. He didn’t believe it was admissible. There was no record of him having told Detective Hamlyn about the conversation. At no time did he attempt to record an interview with the Accused.

Once they arrived in Alice Springs Adam Filippone was taken to the Alice Springs Watch House. There was no further attempt to obtain any record of the conversation on the plane which Richardson alleged that had taken place.

Sergeant Richardson did not attempt to use the evidence of the so called conversation at the bail hearing or committal hearing. He had every opportunity to do so. Sergeant Richardson gave evidence at the committal hearing against the Accused on Il October 2010. He gave no evidence of the conversation at the committal. The Accused was discharged at the conclusion of the committal proceedings. Sergeant Richardson did not tell the Prosecutor about the conversation as according to him he didn’t think it was admissible.

At the coronial inquest in April 2011 Sergeant Richardson gave no evidence of the conversation but was present when the Accused gave evidence. The Accused denied in his evidence he was present or involved in the killing. It was only at that time that Richardson reminded Counsel assisting the Coroner of the conversation in the aeroplane. He gave a note to Counsel assisting, on a piece of sticky paper, which can no longer be located. Sergeant Richardson made a statement on 27 August 2014 outlining the conversation. Her Honour referred to section 142(1) Police Administration Act (NT) that evidence of an admission by a suspect made to a Police Officer is not admissible as part of the prosecution case except in circumstances provided for in s 142(1)(a) and (b). that is The confession or admission will be admissible if, in the circumstances provided for in (a), the substance of the confession or admission is confirmed by the person concemed, and with respect to (a) and (b) the confirmation or admission was electronically recorded and that recording is available to be tendered. Admissions outside the scope of 142 (1) (a) and (b) will note be will not be admissible unless the Court exercises a discretion in favour of admission under s. 143. Her Honour rejected the admission of the conversation that was alleged to have taken place on the aeroplane.


NTNews – Adam Filippone found not guilty of murder of Peter Wayne Murphy in Alice Springs Supreme Court

News.com – Adam Filippone found not guilty of murder of Peter Wayne Murphy in Alice Springs Supreme Court