Autopsy evidence given in Mooroopna murder trial

By Liz Mellino

“Complications of facial injuries" has been deemed the cause of death of a man who was fatally assaulted in Mooroopna last year, a court has heard.

The evidence was heard yesterday in the Shepparton Supreme Court trial of Trevor Whybrow who is facing one charge of murder over the death of Barry Moffatt on May 27.

David Lee Ranson, a forensic pathologist from the Victorian Institute of Medicine, gave evidence in court yesterday telling the jury of 13 that an autopsy on Mr Moffatt uncovered six findings relating to his cause of death.

Mr Ranson said the findings showed Mr Moffatt suffered multiple blunt forced injuries to his face and neck, multiple abrasions of his facial skin, lining of the mouth and tongue, multiple fractures of facial bones and clotted blood within his sinuses.

The autopsy also revealed Mr Moffatt had a "significantly high" blood alcohol reading of 0.27.

The jury was shown images of Mr Moffatt's injuries which depicted a "large quantity of blood" and bruising on his face along with markings on his left hip which Mr Ranson explained could be as a result of moving his body.

The court was shown CT scan images of Mr Moffatt's skull which uncovered "major damage to the cheekbone" and damage to his eye socket.

“(Mr Moffatt) had severe injuries to the front of the face resulting in haemorrhage to the upper airways; this is a very dangerous pattern of injury, it can obstruct breathing, interferes with the airways and is an indication blunt force has been applied to the head,” Mr Ranson said.

Crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu questioned Mr Ranson about evidence given by Rose Whybrow, Mr Whybrow's mother, which stated she heard Mr Moffatt "gurgling" after being assaulted.

“If the upper airways are full of blood, the nose cavity and mouth, if you try to breath through those fluids there may be gurgling-type sounds,” Mr Ranson said.

When questioned by Mr Whybrow’s defence counsel David Gibson, Mr Ranson admitted obstructed bleeding and injuries such as Mr Moffatt's could cause a person to die in a matter of minutes.

Mr Gibson acknowledged previous evidence which stated Mr Moffatt waited 40 minutes to receive treatment by ambulance personnel, which Mr Ranson agreed was a long time to wait to receive treatment for such injuries.

Matthew Grant Briggs, a pastor at Life Church in Mooroopna, was also called to the stand to give evidence yesterday and described Mr Whybrow as "the sort of guy who would never hurt a fly".

Mr Briggs told the jury he had been the accused's pastor for about seven years, and said Mr Whybrow was a regular volunteer at the church and in the community.

The jury was also read statements given to police by Brian Tilley, Rose Whybrow's partner at the time of the incident who was also at the McKean St, Mooroopna, unit when Mr Moffatt was assaulted.

In his statements Mr Tilley described the atmosphere between everyone prior to the incident as "good and happy", saying he did not see any issues or arguments arise.

When asked by police in his statement about the assault, the court heard Mr Tilley walked into Ms Whybrow's unit to see Mr Whybrow "hitting (Mr Moffatt) so hard".

“Trevor was screaming at him while striking him, he was using both hands clenched into fists and he punched Barry to the face and head — I cannot estimate the number of blows,” Mr Tilley's statement said.

“I could not see Barry trying to physically defend himself and I believe he was semi-conscious at that stage.”

His statement said Mr Whybrow and Mr Tilley then carried Mr Moffatt outside, placing him on the footpath in front of the unit where he remained until police and ambulance members arrived.

The trial is set to continue on Monday.