Alleged murder victim Michael Hartley was living with his sister Sandy right before he was found dead on a property in Gympie.
Alleged murder victim Michael Hartley was living with his sister Sandy right before he was found dead on a property in Gympie.

MURDER CASE: How man in ditch was living out dying days

THE devastated sister of a man who was found dead down an embankment on a Gympie property yesterday said her family was completely blindsided by her brother's death.

Michael Hartley, who was released from prison on parole a fortnight ago had been living with his sister Sandy Hartley and her young family in Logan for the past two weeks.

He was clean, focused on family and soaking up the love and admiration of his three young nephews, Ms Hartley said today.

He was also terminally ill with liver cancer.

Michael Hartley, who was found deceased in a ditch on a Gympie property on Monday morning with sister Sandy Hartley the week before he died.
Michael Hartley, who was found deceased in a ditch on a Gympie property on Monday morning with sister Sandy Hartley the week before he died.

According to police, Mr Hartley, 43, was involved in an "altercation" at an address in Maryborough on Sunday evening where at least one man was allegedly stabbed and taken to Hervey Bay Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Michael Hartley, who was found deceased in a ditch on a Gympie property on Monday morning.
Michael Hartley, who was found deceased in a ditch on a Gympie property on Monday morning.

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Police allege Mr Hartley was seriously injured and fled the scene, escaping police and making it to Gympie before crashing through a fence at Ross Creek, east of Gympie and ending up on a property on Burns Rd.

It was there that Mr Hartley was found Monday morning, dead down an embankment.

"I was worried something had happened," Ms Hartley said - when he had not been home for his police curfew check on Monday.

Michael Hartley pictured with his nephews the week before he died.
Michael Hartley pictured with his nephews the week before he died.

Her big brother - the second of five siblings - was missing, but it wasn't until media reports unfolded that Ms Hartley learned of her brother's fate.

"He was living with cancer - he was dying anyway - he had until mid next year to live before he would need palliative care," she said.

The crime scene at John St Maryborough, where an alleged altercation took place that allegedly led to the death of a man in Gympie. Photo: Carlie Walker
The crime scene at John St Maryborough, where an alleged altercation took place that allegedly led to the death of a man in Gympie. Photo: Carlie Walker

But in the past two weeks she said he had been in high spirits; taking her three young sons under his wing and keeping them happy with an endless supply of Pokemon balls from the coin-operated machine at the nearby shops he would take them to.

"He was just spending good quality time with us," she said.

"He had shown no signs he had been back on drugs or even involved with the wrong people.

"He's the type of person if you were his friend or his family he would give you the shirt off his own back.

"He might be a criminal and might have made some sh---- choices in life but he was a good person."

HUNT: Police guard Burns Rd at Ross Creek near Gympie where detectives are scouring for clues after the body of a man was found in ditch on a property. Photo: Frances Klein
HUNT: Police guard Burns Rd at Ross Creek near Gympie where detectives are scouring for clues after the body of a man was found in ditch on a property. Photo: Frances Klein

She said he had recently been prescribed morphine to treat the pain his cancer was causing, but had refused to take it because he knew drugs had been his downfall in the past.

"He'd always been a cheeky, mischievous teenager. Unfortunately he got into drug abuse and that's what led him to all of his problems and his lifelong struggle with drugs."

But he also vowed he would never go back to jail, his sister said.

"He learned and was valuing life."

She said he left behind a 26 year-old son, 23-year-old daughter and young grandchildren who he had been face-timing with and had planned on meeting soon.

A man has been charged with Mr Hartley's murder as investigations continue. 

Michael Hartley
Michael Hartley
Gympie Times

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