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

Witness credibility under attack in murder trial

THE motivations behind a key witness's testimony in Shaun Barker's murder trial have come under attack.

Brisbane Supreme Court heard witness Matthew Paul Dean would ring up accused killer Stephen "Snoop" John Armitage to abuse him and swear at him.

Mr Armitage, his son Matthew Leslie Armitage and William Francis Dean, no relation to Matthew Dean, have pleaded not guilty to killing Mr Barker.

Crown prosecutor Glenn Cash has alleged in December 2013 the trio tortured and killed Mr Barker, stuffing him into an esky, burning his corpse and dumping it in a forest.

The court heard Mr Barker was involved in the drug trade and had a large drug debt.

Matthew Dean previously told the court around Christmas 2013 William Dean asked him if he would "babysit" someone who the three had been brutally beaten as they "needed him to talk". Matthew Dean said he thought it may have been a joke and laughed it off.

He told the court he was then told the three were going to put the man in an esky.

But on Tuesday Tin Can Bay man Rodney Austin told the court Matthew Dean would call Stephen Armitage to abuse him.

He said he heard Mr Dean on the phone to Stephen Armitage having "hostile" conversations about a belief that Mr Armitage was sleeping with Mr Dean's former partner.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Tony Kimmins, Mr Austin admitted he heard Mr Deans abuse Mr Armitage, calling him a "dog c***" and asking "what kind of a mate are you?".

Mr Austin denied Mr Deans had ever stayed at his house, but said he would simply "come around", until in mid-January Mr Austin's housemate told him to stay away.

Earlier in the trial Mr Deans admitted he had a long-running dispute with Stephen Armitage about the issue and about fishing holes.

But Mr Deans denied to the court that dispute was impacting his testimony in the case. He said he and Stephen Armitage had "fought over fish our whole lives".

The trial continues.