MURDER TRIAL TWIST: Alternate killer theory
IS FREDERICK Ronald Sinfield a murderer or did his panicked actions just make him look like one?
Defence barrister James Benjamin proposed the latter while delivering his final address to the Maryborough Supreme Court jury yesterday.
Across the last week-and-a-half, the court heard the crown's version of how Eli Water's woman Norma Ludlam ended up lying in a pool of blood, half-naked on her bedroom floor with what would prove to be a fatal head wound.
Ms Ludlam never regained consciousness and died in hospital two days later.
Crown prosecutor Tom Fuller has argued the circumstantial evidence points to Ms Ludlam's neighbour Mr Sinfield who allegedly became enraged when Ms Ludlam said she did not want him to be her carer.
Mr Sinfield, who was in a poor financial situation, would have gained an extra $120 a week from the commonwealth as her registered carer, the court has heard.
Mr Benjamin yesterday submitted some of the DNA found around Ms Ludlam's house could have come from her prolapsed anus.
Blood found on Ms Ludlam's card wallet and purse he said, could be from someone riffling through them with gloves on.
The defence barrister suggested a different interpretation of the evidence which could instead point to an intruder searching for Ms Ludlam's OxyContin tablets prescribed for her medical conditions.
Mr Benjamin said there was no list made of what medications were found across Ms Ludlam's floor when paramedics arrived and in the crime scene photos he could not locate the OxyContin tablets.
"(Ms Ludlam's damaged screen door) is an important piece of evidence. It is similar to other break-ins in the area only months before. (Some neighbours) went to the effort to install a CCTV camera in their home because of break-ins," Mr Benjamin said.
He suggested the blood splatter on the wall above the bed could have come off the back swing of someone assaulting Ms Ludlam instead of the downward strike like prosecution suggested.
Mr Benjamin said there was an equally rational explanation that she was having a 'late-night snack' and she was topless because she had spilled something on her pyjama top while eating.
He also argued Ms Ludlam's dog may not have barked (a piece of evidence used by the prosecution to suggest the dog knew the person in the home) as he was busy eating food off a plate on the floor.
Referring to the testimony of a neighbour, who heard yelling between a man and a woman around 2am on July 4, Mr Benjamin suggested an intruder had reacted to Ms Ludlam's scream, picked up the nearest object and assaulted her.
"I urge you to listen to the 000 call again, the crown says Mr Sinfield is play acting, but listen carefully... if it is acting it is an Oscar winning performance," he said.
Mr Benjamin said his client panicked and tried to distance himself from Ms Ludlam by deleting his phone's call logs and hiding a jacket which contained her DNA in a box in his garage.
"He doesn't throw it (the jacket) away but hides it which is consistent with a stupid and panicked decision," he said.
The jury is expected to retire this morning to consider its verdict.