News

Mooroopna man pleads not guilty to murder

By Myles Peterson

A man appeared in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with murder resulting from the death of a man in Mooroopna last year.

Trevor Whybrow, 57, of Mooroopna, appeared before the court for a two-day committal hearing which began on Wednesday.

The prosecution, led by Daniel Porceddu, alleged Mr Whybrow killed Barry James Moffatt at about 9pm on Sunday, May 27, last year at a block of flats on McKean St.

Mr Moffatt suffered injuries to the face and throat resulting from blunt force trauma, the court heard.

Professor David Ranson, a forensics expert, testified Mr Moffatt might have been struck once or several times, depending on the level of the force used.

Mr Moffatt suffered fractures to the facial region of his skull, according to Prof Ranson. The victim also had a blood alcohol level of 0.27 at the time of his death, Prof Ranson said.

‘‘A person who has a very high blood alcohol has a less conscious state,’’ Prof Ranson told the court under questioning from defence lawyer David Gibson.

‘‘That sort of force to the head in a person with a high level of blood alcohol can result in arhythmia as well ... and may be one of the potential mechanisms of death,’’ Prof Ranson said.

Mr Moffatt was found in a ‘‘supine’’ position by responding paramedics, lying on his back, which may have also contributed to blood from his injuries pooling in his airway and obstructing his breathing, the court heard.

The court also heard evidence regarding DNA that may have connected the accused to the victim.

‘‘That provides strong support for the proposition that Mr Whybrow’s DNA is on the front of the (victim’s) underwear, is that right?’’ Mr Gibson asked one witness, a forensic biologist who appeared via video link.

The witness testified DNA taken from a penile swab and the victim’s underwear might be connected to the accused.

Detective Senior Constable Leigh Prados, who led the investigation for Victoria Police’s homicide squad, testified undercover officers had been placed in Mr Whybrow's cell on the night of his arrest.

‘‘A decision was made to send undercover operatives into the cell with Mr Whybrow?’’ Mr Gibson asked Det Snr Const Prados.

‘‘It was done to further explore another investigative avenue,’’ the officer responded.

Mr Whybrow pleaded not guilty before Magistrate David Faram and was remanded back in custody to reappear before the Victorian Supreme Court later this month.