Cricket bat killing: John Collins denies murdering mate, Brent Bacon

A man who bludgeoned his mate to death with a cricket bat – covering a Dunedin flat in blood – says he was defending himself.

John Kenneth Collins, 39, appeared for trial before the High Court at Dunedin this morning where he pleaded not guilty to the murder of 45-year-old Brent Andrew Bacon but admitted interfering with the victim’s corpse and unlawfully taking his vehicle.

Bacon’s body was found in an advanced state of decomposition in rural Seacliff on February 18, 2019, but it is alleged the murder took place two weeks earlier at a Lock St home in the suburb of St Clair.

Defence counsel Len Andersen QC said there was no dispute his client killed his friend with a cricket bat but he said there was no murderous intent.

Crown prosecutor Pip Norman said the victim moved to Dunedin from Christchurch to live with his sister and brother-in-law Lia and Sam Bezett.

In November 2018, Collins and his wife Aleisha Dawson, 32, – friends of Bacon – also moved to Dunedin, into a state-housing unit in Lock St.

The trio reconnected and the court heard Bacon would frequently spend evenings with the couple.

On February 4, the victim watched Netflix with Bezett then left the house.

Bank records showed he withdrew $100 from a South Dunedin ATM then, there was a transaction at a service station shortly after, then he returned at 9pm.

CCTV showed him enter with Dawson and make a $20 transaction while Collins waited in the victim’s Toyota outside.

What happened at 47 Lock St that night was the major issue at trial.

Collins was interviewed by police a couple of weeks later and described Bacon as being “paranoid” that night.

After making a derogatory comment, he said, the victim came at him, fist raised and looking angry.

Collins said he swung a cricket bat overarm “like swinging an axe” but did not intend to hit Bacon.

When the man was on the ground on his stomach, the defendant told police he hit him again in the back of the head.

There may have been a third blow but he said he “blacked out”.

Norman said ESR staff found blood on the walls, floor, ceiling and furniture.

Bacon suffered unsurvivable head injuries – fractures to his skull and face, as well as broken bones in his hands.

“The Crown says the nature of the injuries, their location and the force and number of blows all indicate an assault that amounted to murder rather than self-defence,” Norman said.

Collins, assisted by Dawson who later pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the homicide, put Bacon’s body inside a sleeping bag, loaded him into his Toyota then dumped him under a low-hanging tree at Seacliff, 1.7km from State Highway 1.

The couple continued north, sold the vehicle to a backpackers for $250 then caught the ferry to Wellington.

They got a bus to Rotorua.

Dawson told friends they were “going bush” but they were found socialising on the lakefront on February 19.

Two days earlier, Bezett had kicked down the door at 47 Lock St and found the bloody scene and Bacon’s distinctive jandals.

Coincidentally, a cyclist discovered his remains and police suddenly had two crime scenes.

Bezett, the Crown’s first witness, described her brother getting into surfing and using cannabis as a teenager.

His adult life, she told the jury, was a series of peaks and troughs.

Bacon experienced drug-related crises and he started using methamphetamine in 2018.

Bezett said though plagued by drug and mental-health issues he was someone who loved people and was “naturally a really chilled guy”.

The trial, before Justice Jan-Marie Doogue and a jury of six men and six women, is expected to conclude next week.After making a derogatory comment, he said, the victim came at him, fist raised and looking angry.

Collins said he swung a cricket bat overarm “like swinging an axe” but did not intend to hit Bacon.

When the man was on the ground on his stomach, the defendant told police he hit him again in the back of the head.

There may have been a third blow but he said he “blacked out”.

Norman said ESR staff found blood on the walls, floor, ceiling and furniture.

Bacon suffered unsurvivable head injuries – fractures to his skull and face, as well as broken bones in his hands.

“The Crown says the nature of the injuries, their location and the force and number of blows all indicate an assault that amounted to murder rather than self-defence,” Ms Norman said.

Collins, assisted by Dawson who later pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the homicide, put Bacon’s body inside a sleeping bag, loaded him into his Toyota then dumped him under a low-hanging tree at Seacliff, 1.7km from State Highway 1.

The couple continued north, sold the vehicle to a backpackers for $250 then caught the ferry to Wellington.

They got a bus to Rotorua.

Dawson told friends they were “going bush” but they were found socialising on the lakefront on February 19.

Two days earlier, Bezett had kicked down the door at 47 Lock St and found the bloody scene and Mr Bacon’s distinctive jandals.

Coincidentally, a cyclist discovered his remains and police suddenly had two crime scenes.

Bezett, the Crown’s first witness, described her brother getting into surfing and using cannabis as a teenager.

His adult life, she told the jury, was a series of peaks and troughs.

Bacon experienced drug-related crises and he started using methamphetamine in 2018.

Bezett said though plagued by drug and mental-health issues he was someone who loved people and was “naturally a really chilled guy”.

The trial, before Justice Jan-Marie Doogue and a jury of six men and six women, is expected to conclude next week.


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