Shaun Barker was found dead. The Crown said he was accused of stealing drugs.
Shaun Barker was found dead. The Crown said he was accused of stealing drugs. Photo Contributed

'In fear of my life': Murder trial witness grilled over drugs

A MURDER trial witness who claimed to have seen a man fall out of an esky has admitted lying to the Crime and Corruption Commission about his drug habit.

The admission came one day after jurors heard allegations a man was confined in an esky, tied to a tree, and had honey smeared on his genitals, causing ants to cover his private parts.

Matthew Leslie Armitage, 25, and his father Stephen John Armitage, 48, from Cooloola Cove, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Shaun Barker.

Corey James Ballard had been to the Armitages' property, where he said he saw a man roll out of a large esky.

He claimed Stephen Armitage, known as Snoopy, said if he mentioned anything about the esky incident he would "end up in the esky" beside whoever had been in it.

But on Tuesday, defence counsel Greg McGuire said Mr Ballard had, in separate statements, provided a meandering set of explanations about the alleged esky incident to authorities.

Mr Ballard, a former marijuana and ice user, said he gave a statement to police in 2014 "in fear of my life".

But he also claimed police, dissatisfied with what he said, later intimidated him.

"I was pulled over by three or four police officers," he said. "I was told that I was lying and that I should go down to the police station and give a proper statement."

The jury heard of a separate incident where Mr Ballard was asked to give evidence to the CCC, and lied by denying he used ice.

"It's not really an appearance you want everyone to know about," Mr Ballard said.

"Does that give us an indication of the seriousness with which you take this process?" Mr McGuire asked, referring to the murder trial.

The barrister also asked Mr Ballard if at the time of the alleged esky incident - in December 2013 - he used ice whenever he possibly could.

Mr Ballard responded "no" to both questions and added: "I wasn't an addict."

The Crown alleged Mr Barker, 33, was taken from the Gold Coast to Cooloola Cove in December 2013.

His remains were found in a forest several months later.

The trial continues.

- NewsRegional