DAY 6: 'It was like a Mexican standoff'

UPDATE 7.30PM: A WITNESS said he did not know if it was a coincidence or not that Dean Leard pulled a knife, threatened to stab people and asked to be stabbed on the same weekend Shandee Blackburn was killed.

Toby Fodera this afternoon tried to piece together the sequence of events during a three-day binge drinking session at his Wellington St unit as he gave evidence in Mackay Coroners Court.

"We were all hitting the piss pretty hard," the 31 year old said.

"All I know is that stuff escalated ... a knife was pulled out and he wanted me to punch him in the head, then he wanted me to stab him then he wanted to stab someone," he said.

"And it was like a Mexican standoff outside in the yard."

He said Mr Leard had been drinking at the unit, where he had been staying for a couple of days, with him and about four others.

The court previously heard Mr Leard was living out of his car in February.

Mr Fodera said they had been drinking from about mid afternoon the day before Shandee was killed on February 8, 2013 and were "f***ed up" by 8pm that night. He agreed they had been drinking rum, bourbon, vodka, liqueur and pre-mixed drinks.

Mr Fodera said Mr Leard had left his unit three times, the first was to go to a service station "for a sh** and a feed".

"He started acting weird and he took off again and he came back," Mr Fodera told the court.

"Then he pulled out a knife and he started saying that he wanted someone to stab him or he wanted to stab someone so he could feel like an animal.

"I don't know if he was just drunk. It was out of the blue.

"I just put it as he was just rotten … alcohol talking … he was trying to show off."

Mr Fodera said he went to bed about 8.30pm but the other guys told him Mr Leard "took off" again sometime after 10pm and he came back "and he was acting all weird".

He told the inquest he had told Mr Leard to "f*** off" because of his behaviour with the knife, but said he came back later trying to apologise.

Mr Fodera said Mr Leard was "acting weird"; wearing different clothes, had shaved his head leaving a rat's tail and saying he wanted to look different.

Mr Leard, who gave evidence earlier today, has denied saying or doing any of this, leaving the unit alone around the time Shandee died and having involvement in Shandee's death.

Mr Fodera admitted he had difficulty remembering exactly what Mr Leard did on the Friday night and the Saturday morning saying "we were pretty messy, it was a couple of days of drinking".

He also admitted to taking drugs at the time.

He told the court he knew Mr Leard's escalated behaviour involving the knife happened on February 8 because it was the same night his mother was chased while walking home and had to hide under a car.

Mr Fodera said it was early in the morning on February 9 that a few of them did "a Maccas run" and saw all the police cars at the site where Shandee died.

He told the court he had only known Mr Leard for a few months.

The inquest continues tomorrow.

UPDATE 2.35PM: A WITNESS has recalled seeing a "freaky" man hiding behind the large tree that used to be at the corner of Boddington St on the night Shandee Blackburn was killed.

But he told a coronial inquest he did not come forward to police until December 2013.

The young man, who cannot be named because he was 16 years old at the time, said he was riding his bike with two friends when they spotted the man standing then crouching under the tree.

The now 21 year old said it looked "real suss" like "he was stalking someone … like he was waiting for someone".

"He looked just real weird and freaky," he told a coronial inquest today.

The inquest so far: 

He described the man as white and skinny, wearing a dark hoodie and dark jeans.

"I thought he was trying to break into somewhere," he said, admitting that he also used to get into trouble for burglaries.

Shandee, 23, was killed about 12.15am on February 9, 2013 as she was walking home from work. The inquest is the next step in her family's search for answers over what happened the night she died.

John Peros, who has been present every day for the inquest as his lawyer questions each witness called to give evidence, was charged over his former girlfriend's murder in 2014 and acquitted by a jury in 2017 after a two-week supreme court trial.

Today the young man said he and his friends had been riding to McDonalds and, as they left, they had ridden along Sydney St towards the United Service station before turning right onto Boddington St.

"There was a strange man off to the right … behind the tree," the witness said.

"He's sort of hiding down in the shadows."

He told the inquest the he and his friends were startled and rode off in a different direction.

He said hours later, as they were riding back in that area, he saw all the police forensics at the site where Shandee died.

When asked who the strange man looked like, the witness told the inquest he appeared to resemble a man named "Scotty Mac".

Solicitor Kristy Doyle asked the young man why he did not speak to police straight away.

He said at the time he "sort of wants to stay out of it" and "didn't think it was my business".

The inquest heard he voluntarily went to police 10 months after Shandee's death.

"It was something that didn't seem right and had to be said," he told the court today.

The witness also told the inquest that on the day of Shandee's memorial he went to someone's unit and the occupant told him that "she was meant to die".

He said the conversation had been brought up because he had been wearing a Justice For Shandee wrist band.

He said he believed he went back to the unit for drugs.

"We were all into drugs then too," he said.

The inquest continues.

UPDATE 1PM: "I WANT you to stab me. I want to know what it feels like."

Dean Leard allegedly said these words to drug and boozed up Guy Thomas on the weekend Shandee Blackburn was killed.

"I can remember the full-on stuff because he was threatening to stab us ... he was creeping everyone out," Mr Thomas told a coronial inquest after his memory was questioned.

He admitted to using "speed, crystal meth" and marijuana at the time.

After stepping into the witness box, Mr Thomas elected his legal right to claim privilege from self-incrimination in relation to his drug use.

He told the court Mr Leard said to him "I'm going to stab you" as he was laying on a table waving a knife around.

Mr Leard, who already gave evidence today, denied any of this occurred. He has also denied having anything to do with Shandee's death.

In February 2013, Mr Thomas had been living with his mate Toby Fodera at a unit on Wellington St.

He said a group of them including Mr Leard and Mr Fodera were drinking from 1pm on February 8 to 4am on February 10.

Mr Thomas gave his first statement to police on March 6, 2013 and said Mr Leard had been annoying everyone that weekend, becoming increasingly drunk and wanting to fight another man who was there.

"Seemed like a big d*ck competition," Mr Thomas said today.

The inquest so far: 

He told the police Mr Leard left the unit at some point between 11pm on the Friday night and 2am on Saturday morning.

"I don't know where he went. He talked about going to Maccas. He was gone for 45 minutes to an hour," he told police.

Counsel Assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen asked if he was carrying anything.

"He had a knife," Mr Thomas said.

"He was acting real weird ... he was upset, crying," Mr Thomas said of Mr Leard when he returned to the unit.

Mr Thomas agreed he told police that about 2am Mr Leard asked for a haircut.

Under questioning from Craig Eberhardt, representing John Peros who was acquitted in 2017 of Shandee's murder, he agreed Mr Leard was sitting on the ground in tears saying he wanted to change and did not want to look like himself anymore.

He told police at some point in the early hours of Saturday he and some others took a "Maccas run" and saw police at the nearby vacant block.

The inquest heard he told police that on Saturday, February 9 about 11am he cut Mr Leard's hair and had taken a photo at some point.

However there was some confusion as to the exact time in a second statement Mr Thomas gave to police in January 2014.

Mr Thomas admitted to solicitor Kristy Bell, who is representing Shandee's mother Vicki Blackburn in the inquest into her daughter's death, he was confused about what happened on the Friday and what happened on the Saturday.

"Can't remember 90 per cent of it," he said.

Mr Thomas told Coroner David O'Connell he did not see Mr Leard return wearing a bloodied shirt or carrying a bloodied knife, nor did he hear him ask for new clothing or to burn clothes.

The inquest continues.


INITIAL: A MAN has denied saying "I just want to kill someone" around the time Shandee Blackburn, 23, was stabbed to death.

Dean Leard told the coronial inquest into her death he had been living out the back of his car in February 2013.

On February 8, hours before Ms Blackburn was killed on Boddington St, he said he was driving around with mates "all over Mackay" and later even passed the scene of the crime "and saw heaps of cops".

Dean Leard refuted claims he burned blood-stained clothes the night of Shandee's murder. He is a witness at the inquest into her death.
Dean Leard refuted claims he burned blood-stained clothes the night of Shandee's murder. He is a witness at the inquest into her death. Janessa Ekert

Counsel Assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen asked Mr Leard if he ever said words to the effect of "I just want to kill someone ... because my brother is going to jail for five years".

"I think that's been taken out of context," Mr Leard told a coronial inquest into Shandee's death.

"I would never kill no one... I don't think I would say that.

"The only way I would ever stab anyone is if they were to stab me."

Mr Leard agreed he used to carry a knife "just for me own protection" but denied having anything to do with Shandee's death.

"I've been carrying a knife since I was a kid," he said.

"Do you still carry one now?" Mr Aberdeen asked.

"No sir," he said.

Barrister Craig Eberhardt, for John Peros who was acquitted in 2017 of his former girlfriend's murder, accused Mr Leard of being "off chops" and returned to a mate's house wearing a white shirt stained with blood and throwing a knife on the ground and later burning some clothes in a drum.

Mr Leard denied that happened.

Mr Eberhardt pressed Mr Leard on whether he carried a knife with a 13 to 14cm blade that he used to sharped in front of his friends.

"That's a load of sh**," Mr Leard said.

While giving evidence, Mr Leard was questioned about a night when he got really drunk with his mate Toby Fodera, who is expected to give evidence later today.

He was asked if it could have been the same night that he was driving around on February 8. He said no.

Although he also said he was "not too sure".

Shandee was killed while walking home just after midnight on February 9, 2013.

Mr Aberdeen asked where he was at that time and Mr Leard said he did not know.

"It was six years ago ... all I remember is driving around," he said.

LISTEN: Witness recalls night of murder in police recording

The inquest heard the night he drank a lot with Mr Fodera, he allegedly said "I wanna be stabbed".

"No ... definitely wouldn't have said that," Mr Leard said today.

"Do you remember wanting to fight anybody?" Mr Aberdeen asked.

Mr Leard said Mr Fodera had been "pissing me off" but he did not fight anyone.

Mr Eberhardt accused Mr Leard of going off on his own for between 45 minutes to an hour in the early hours of February 9, 2013.

Mr Eberhardt also accused Mr Leard of being an "emotional wreck" when he returned and that he asked for a haircut.

He accused Mr Leard of saying: "I wanna hair cut. I wanna look like an animal. I wanna look real mean, so nobody recognises me."

The inquest heard his mate Guy Thomas, who is also expected to give evidence today, allegedly gave him a haircut but Mr Leard said he thought it was his mother, who came to Mackay sometime after Shandee's death, who did it.

Mr Leard denied he left on his own and maintained he drove passed Boddington St when police were on scene while Mr Fodera and Mr Thomas were in the car with him.

He agreed he was smoking marijuana and ice at the time but denied ever injecting the drug.

The inquest heard he left Mackay sometime after Shandee's death. He said he left because his relationship had ended and he had no reason to stay.

"I didn't kill anyone so I don't want to be treated like a criminal," Mr Leard said heatedly from the witness box.

The inquest continues.


UPDATE: Severe storm warning cancelled

UPDATE: Severe storm warning cancelled

The severe storm warning has been cancelled.

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