The scene after a body was found in the St Mary's churchyard in July last year. The dead man was 45-year-old Wayne Warren Ruks.
The scene after a body was found in the St Mary's churchyard in July last year. The dead man was 45-year-old Wayne Warren Ruks.

Trial starts for churchyard murder

“DAMNING” CCTV footage of an altercation between three men in St Mary's Catholic Church grounds will be the main prosecution evidence offered in a murder case before the Maryborough Supreme Court this week.

In his opening comments Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Greg Cummings said the 15 minutes of footage showed two men identified as Richard John Meerdink and Jason Andrew Pearce assault a man identified as 45-year-old Wayne Warren Ruks outside the Bazaar Street church just after 9.15pm on July 3 last year.

Read more about the murder at St Mary's Catholic Church.

He said the first few minutes of footage showed the two Maryborough men, who have pleaded not guilty to Mr Ruks's murder, enter the churchyard with Mr Ruks in tow.

In the following minutes the men appear to be talking until the accused men advance on Mr Ruks, a Post Office Hotel resident. Pearce, 39, can be seen holding Meerdink, 36, back.

Mr Ruks leaves the churchyard. When he returns minutes later the three appear to talk again until Mr Ruks starts edging backwards and eventually breaks away and into a sprint towards Bazaar Street.

Mr Cummings said the footage showed Pearce chase after Ruks and tackle him. Meerdink then “strides” in and delivers a swinging kick to Mr Ruks' stomach.

Mr Ruks manages to get to his feet but following a struggle with the men he falls to the ground again. When Mr Ruks does not get back up, Meerdink walks over and stomps on the 45-year-old.

The footage was described by Mr Cummings as “damning” and “compelling”.

A coroner, who is expected to give evidence in the trial, found Mr Ruks died from burst blood vessels in his stomach.

Read more about the murder at St Mary's Catholic Church.



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