EVERY town’s got a Scott O’Heir. A small-time thug with a few tatts and a foul mouth who’s capable of burglaries, minor drug deals, roughing up old ladies and that’s about it.
As is often the case in criminal trials, the most damning evidence against O’Heir came from his own mouth.
The jury who found him guilty of the robbery and murder of Singleton grandmother Hilliary Allen this week got to hear hours of O’Heir in full flight.
There were the intercepted telephone calls, the hours of recordings from a bug that was planted in a caravan before O’Heir and his girlfriend were arrested, and his testimony from a previous trial that was aborted.
This was what he had to say about cooking an egg for his pregnant girlfriend, Cheyenne Anderson: ‘‘Pass us your plate, mate. Mate, you want to start learning how to f---ing cook, hey, I’m sick of this, c---. I’m going to start bashing you soon, mate. You want to start learning how to cook, Cheyenne. F---. I do everything for you mate. Here, take the c--- before I slap it in your face.’’
If the jury was impressed with that, then one wonders what they thought of O’Heir referring to Mrs Allen as an ‘‘old slut’’ and a ‘‘c---’’.
Scott Leslie O’Heir, 28, was born on the Central Coast and spent time growing up there and in the Hunter Valley.
He attended school until his early teens and said he had learning difficulties. It appears he spent the next decade living in various towns in the Coalfields and Blue Mountains.
By the time he found his way to Singleton he was selling drugs, breaking into homes and playing the pokies on a regular basis.
He said he liked to lift weights and often trained twice a day and at 1.8metres in height and tipping the scales at 101 kilograms, he might sound like an imposing specimen.
The reality was quite different.
O’Heir looked a little podgy in the dock.
He often had his brow furrowed and his lips pursed in an expression that cried out: ‘‘Why me. This is so unfair.’’
The defeated look was in stark contrast to the O’Heir captured in the recordings.
Hilliary Allen, 82, was found dead on the floor of the garage in her Boonal Street unit on the morning of March 2, 2009, by one of her sons.
We’ll never really know how Scott O’Heir found his way into the home of Mrs Allen, who no longer held a driver’s licence but still led an active life and was supported by her sons and their families, who lived nearby.
O’Heir claimed it was Anderson who knocked on the door and convinced Mrs Allen to let them in so they could use the phone.
Cheyenne Anderson pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of accessory after the fact to murder and always denied being in the unit, but as Crown prosecutor Peter Barnett SC pointed out to the jury, there is evidence that Anderson was probably inside the unit at some stage.
Or, as O’Heir put it a month after Mrs Allen’s death: ‘‘My life’s over, Cheyenne, and you’re gonna sit here on your arse .. I really wished you would have helped me that day, hey ... Cheyenne, OK you’re involved in it, mate, all right, you were there when the whole thing happened, Cheyenne. OK? Don’t worry. I know they’re probably going to kill me. Don’t worry ... Shit.’’
There was other evidence linking O’Heir to the scene. Police found shoe prints in a trail of Mrs Allen’s blood that ran through the upstairs living section of the unit to her eventual resting place in the downstairs garage.
O’Heir initially told police that he’d lent his shoes to a bloke called Derek on the afternoon of Mrs Allen’s death, but by the time his trial came around, O’Heir had changed his story.
Police had identified the soles as matching a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus and they knew that O’Heir had ordered a pair from a sports store not long before the murder.
O’Heir was arrested in the shoes. A couple of days before his arrest he was heard to say: ‘‘They’ve got claret all through them.’’
O’Heir eventually told the jury a tale that laid the blame for Mrs Allen’s death on Anderson.
He said he followed Anderson and Mrs Allen up the stairs of the unit before there was a ‘‘commotion’’.
Anderson fled while O’Heir tried to help.
Even on his own evidence, O’Heir was of little use to Mrs Allen. He claimed he helped her up off the floor of her bedroom and walked her into the bathroom to find something to treat the deep leg wound that ultimately claimed her life.
O’Heir said he couldn’t find anything to help treat the wound, despite there being towels on the towel rack and on the floor, so he walked Mrs Allen back to the bedroom where he sat her on the bed.
He then left after claiming he got a towel from a linen closet and pressed it against Mrs Allen’s leg.
That towel was never found.
If the jury accepted the Crown’s theory in its entirety, then the likely chain of events was that O’Heir struck, pushed, shoved or manhandled Mrs Allen while forcing her to lead him to her valuables.
He took her wallet and possibly a tin of cash that was kept in the bathroom vanity and some jewellery.
O’Heir’s barrister said it was significant that other jewellery, a $20 note and other valuables were left untouched, thereby supporting O’Heir’s claim that he was only in the unit to help.
But another more likely scenario, given the jury’s verdict, is that this was a robbery that went terribly wrong.
Did Mrs Allen resist? Did she start calling out? Did she lose consciousness during the ordeal as the blood drained from her body?
Did O’Heir panic and leave in a hurry? Was he satisfied with the wallet and the cash in the tin?
‘‘Kind of feel bad robbing that old c---,’’ he said in the bugged caravan in Oberon five days before his arrest.
Three days before his arrest he told Anderson that the police couldn’t charge them with murder because they had no murder weapon and no DNA.
‘‘All right c---, I went in there, I keyed the f---ing house, I grabbed the wallet, I left her down the f---ing stairs ...’’ he said.
A week before his arrest he said: ‘‘I wouldn’t get much more time on top of 20, 21. I’ll just do the whole lot. I’ll just let it roll around. Whoa, f---, my mum will be dead ... I’ll probably be dead too ... Don’t give a f---. Then again, I’ll probably just train. Have to do something to keep myself in line.’’
One observer likened the recorded conversations to witnessing a man unravel.
O’Heir and Anderson visited the Oberon library regularly to read what was in the Newcastle Herald and other websites and they were fed information from family members still living in the Singleton area.
As the couple received more and more information about what police had found and descriptions of the suspects that matched O’Heir and the heavily pregnant Anderson, O’Heir railed against his own family and Anderson’s.
‘‘I’m not saying anything to none of you c---s,’’ he said to Anderson in relation to her family.
‘‘You can get f---ed. F---ed all you c---s. I’ll just point my fingers at the ... I don’t give a f---. F--- hey, your mum’s a dead dog.
‘‘What you’re trying to pinch me, do it, you’re trying to pinch one ... Well you’ve got the wrong f---ing bloke have youse.
‘‘That’s what I’ll be saying to the family, ‘how do you feel c---s?’ They’ll all be saying you found the f---ing wallet in the house, listen c---, I found the f---ing, f---en wallet near the f---ing park, gronk ... That’s what I’ll be saying.
‘‘Now what you’re trying to f---ing, trying to get some c--- to go in for murder when he didn’t even f---ing do it. Youse are real good civilians are youse. Tell your mum to rot in f---ing death.’’
For someone so animated, O’Heir showed little emotion when the verdict was read on Monday.
He spoke quietly to his lawyers after the jury left the courtroom and returned to the cells downstairs.
He’ll be sentenced in September, when he’ll be given another opportunity to have his say.