Noa Ronnie Etheridge is on trial in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to carrying out an act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The assault took place after he had attempted to break into cars and units at this block of units.
Noa Ronnie Etheridge is on trial in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to carrying out an act with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The assault took place after he had attempted to break into cars and units at this block of units. Jann Houley

Crown prosecutor: 'It's how we slaughter cattle'

"IT'S how we slaughter cattle" a jury has heard from Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips in his closing address in the attempted murder trial over an assault with a hammer on a Koongal woman last year.

Noa Ronnie Etheridge pleaded not guilty last week to one count of attempted murder and one count of acts with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He has entered pleas of guilty to unlawful act of grievous bodily harm and other charges of attempting to enter premises, stealing, enter dwelling with intent, wilful damage and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Etheridge was 23 years old when he went on a crime spree on January 9, 2018 that allegedly included attacking 56-year-old Koongal resident Kerry Gittins in her home at about 6.30am after asking her for a bottle of water for his 'son who had hurt himself while they were fishing'.

He allegedly hit Ms Gittins in both temples with a hammer, with expert evidence heard during the trial outlining the extent of the force resulted in an injury that penetrated the brain matter.

Defence barrister Andrew Hoare, in his closing address, said that the Crown was required to prove Etheridge's intent to kill or intent to cause grievous bodily harm beyond a reasonable doubt.

"This is a largely circumstantial case," he said.

Mr Hoare said Etheridge's actions prior and post the assault all point to his intent only to steal or rob Ms Gittins.

Mr Phillips described Etheridge as "deceptive", "bad at lying" and "importantly, homicidal".

He said 'intention' can be momentary and you can intend to do more than one thing at a time.

"It's only that fraction of time that matters in this case," Mr Phillips said.

"What matters here is what was in his mind the moment he took that hammer to Kerry's head.

"The violence and the considerable force behind it have no place if he would be just stealing things.

"The number of blows has no place if he was just stealing things."

Mr Phillips took the jury back over the evidence from Dr Jed Robusto, who was one of the medical team who treated Ms Gittins at Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital after she was attacked.

His assault on Ms Gittins caused her other injuries.

"The most powerful blows were to the head and to the temples," Mr Phillips said.

"It's how we slaughter cattle.... A blow to the brain."

He said it was so forceful, it "destroyed the bone" and new bone had to be made from acrylic and caused 'traumatic' bleeding around the brain.

"The logic is the more powerful the blow, the more intent," Mr Phillips said.

In his submission to the jury about how to work out which charge the evidence matches, Mr Phillips said the reason why "intent to cause grievous bodily harm" was not sufficient was because of Dr Robusto's testimony that the injuries Ms Gittins sustained would have required "considerable force".

He referred to Etheridge's testimony of taking a cocktail of drugs the night before the assault - including eight to 12 XanaxS, eight points of methamphetamines, four LSD tabs and two rums - was "a furphy, a red herring."

Mr Phillips pointed that Etheridge, just before the assault, was willing to lie by way of the request for water for his 'son'.

"The mere fact that he made up this lie suggests that he was not intoxicated," he said.

Mr Phillips suggested that Etheridge concealed the hammer, otherwise Ms Gittins would have been in fear and recalled this when talking to police later that morning, and that concealing the hammer suggested Etheridge had a "clear thinking mind".

Mr Hoare pointed to Etheridge's footprints up and down the Fitzroy River bank and no fishing gear found as evidence of being 'high'.

He pointed to the syringe found in the garage at the same time the mud on the Mustang was discovered and a claw hammer missing.

"He may have injected again by way of the needle found in the garage that, by reasonable inference, could have come from Etheridge," Mr Hoare said.

"It would be nonsense to say that's not his."

Mr Phillips showed the jury a close up view of the syringe and pointed out it was capped and there was no forensic link to Etheridge.

Mr Hoare pointed to Jonathon Friehaut's evidence about Etheridge's driving behaviour in the Nissan Navara on the Capricorn Highway the morning of the assault, including over taking across double white lines around a bend more than the speed limit being "erratic" and "dangerous".

Mr Phillips suggested Etheridge participating in "polite society" interaction with the other customer at the doorway of the Duaringa BP, shown to the jury during the trial, also suggested Etheridge was "somebody with full clarity".

Mr Hoare pointed to Blackwater Hospital senior medical officer Dr Christine Barry's testimony that Etheridge, when he was taken to the hospital after being apprehended on the Capricorn Highway, told Dr Barry he was hearing voices.

"With his behaviour that day how could you not possibly say he was affected by drugs," Mr Hoare said.

The jury has retired to deliberate.


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