Gold Coast murder victim Shaun Barker.
Gold Coast murder victim Shaun Barker. Photo Contributed

Esky murder accused was an ice dealer: court

AN ALLEGED "ice" dealing fisherman, charged with the torture and murder of a Gold Coast drug addict, was heard saying "the crab's boiled over in the pot" the month his alleged victim went missing.

That's what a Gympie woman has told the Brisbane jury deciding the fate of Cooloola Cove men Stephen John Armitage, his son Matthew Leslie Armitage and their associate William Francis Dean.

The men are accused of trapping Shaun Barker in an esky, torturing him for several days in an effort to gain information about the drug world and burning his body that was later discovered in the Toolara State Forest near Tin Can Bay in April, 2014.

Amber Denning told Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday she used to buy the drug "ice" from Stephen Armitage, who she knew as "Snoop" and smoked it with him at his Cooloola Cove home where she said the yard was strewn with boats, fishing nets and eskys.

She said she, Stephen Armitage, Mr Dean and two others were on their way back to Gympie from a drug binge on the Gold Coast in December, 2013 when "Snoop got a call from his son Matt".

"He got off the phone and said something like 'The crab's boiled over in the pot'," Ms Denning said

"He seemed a little bit uneasy."

Ms Denning said the car then stopped on a dead-end road and the men got out and spoke to each other before returning to where they had been on the Gold Coast and retrieving a video camera.

Ms Denning admitted she was previously a heavy user of ice, often staying awake for days a time and had only broken her habit when she was jailed for three months for unrelated offences.

She said her memory of the events before the court was clouded by her drug use at the time but insisted she clearly recalled hearing the crab pot reference during Mr Armitage's alleged phone call with his son.

Earlier in court, former Gold Coast service station worker recalled seeing a "scared" Mr Barker pacing back and forth outside the business for several hours before eventually walking inside the night of December 10, 2013.

The man told the court he suspected Mr Barker was a junkie and asked him to leave to which replied "I won't go out ... they will kill me, they have a gun".

He said he offered to call the police but Mr Barker said no.

Soon after, the man said, two males came into the shop, one with a "heavy build" and about 5ft 8 and another man at least 6ft tall.

He said the two men "convinced" Mr Barker no one had a gun and he walked out of the service station with them and got into their car.

The trial continues.