A POLICE officer has described frantically trying to get accused murderer Benjamin Batterham to release his grip on home intruder Ricky Slater-Dickson in the early hours of March 26, 2016.
“I said if you don’t get off him and let him breathe, he will die,” Newcastle City Chief Inspector Peter Mahon told a committal hearing into Mr Slater-Dickson’s cause of death in Newcastle Local Court on Monday.
Mr Batterham was lying on top of Mr Slater-Dickson, his left arm around his neck and his right arm raining down blows into the back of his head, in the driveway of a home in Cleary Street, Hamilton, about 400 metres from where he found Mr Slater-Dickson breaking into his house.
Mr Slater-Dickson’s cause of death will be the key issue at Mr Batterham’s murder trial, with prosecution and defence experts split as to the extent that violence played in him suffering three episodes of cardiac arrest and ultimately dying in hospital the day after the break-in.
Mr Slater-Dickson had a “toxic” and “potentially lethal” level of methylamphetamine in his system that may have contributed to his death, Newcastle Local Court has previously heard.
But medical experts have also raised a number of other possible factors that could have contributed to the death of the 34-year-old, including strangulation or asphyxiation from a “choke-hold”, blows to the head and a pre-existing cardiac disease.
Mr Mahon was the only person to give evidence on Monday during what is expected to be a four-day committal hearing.
Between September 10 and 12, Magistrate David Price will hear from both the defence and prosecution expert cardiologists, forensic pathologists and toxicologists.
The defence claim that Mr Batterham should not be committed for trial for murder, citing their medical reports that indicate either the methylamphetamine in Mr Slater-Dickson’s system or other circumstances, independent of the assault, caused his death.
Mr Batterham remains on Supreme Court bail after twice being refused bail since being charged with Mr Slater-Dickson’s murder.
For the full story read tomorrow’s Newcastle Herald.