Pathologist describes man's gruesome death
Rodney Kayne Ferrar inhaled his own blood as a result of a fatal head injuries that left his brain swollen and skull shattered.
The extent of Mr Ferrar's injuries have been revealed as the trial against his accused murderer Daniel Andrew Novley entered its fourth day in the Townsville Supreme Court.
Forensic pathologist Professor David Williams examined the body post-mortem and again a second time later on.
Mr Ferrar was found naked and bloodied in the room he shared with his partner on level four of Sturt Lodge.
Professor Williams told the jury Mr Ferrar suffered two black eyes, severe fracturing to the skull, a fractured jaw, tears to the left ear as well as significant bruising to the left side of the face consistent with a linear object striking the face between two and 10 times.
A blood test at the time of the autopsy revealed the level of alcohol in Mr Ferrar's blood was four times the legal limit of driving.
As well as this, Mr Ferrar had sustained cuts to the face, significant bleeding, including blood pooled in the mouth and lungs, an injured nose and a swollen brain indicative of a haemorrhage.
Professor Williams, who has worked in the field for more than 40 years, said he concluded that Mr Ferrar died as a result of the severe head injuries suffered.
"I thought that the damage to the skull and the associated damage to the brain were the main reason why this man died," he said.
"The left ear has been subjected to a blow by quite a flat instrument.
"A weapon has been used on him and he has died from the consequences of these head injuries."
In cross examination, Novley's defence barrister Joseph Briggs probed Professor Williams about what could have caused Mr Ferrar's death.
"In this case you can't exclude can you, that this man may have died from inhalation of blood alone?" Mr Briggs said.
Professor Williams told the jury he could not rule out that Mr Ferrar did not die from complications from the head injury and not the head injury itself.
Mr Briggs asked if a physical fight earlier on in the day or a person forcefully hitting their head against a wall could have resulted in his death.
Professor William said he could not rule this out as a cause of the injuries to the right side of the head or rule out when the fatal injury occurred - but said this did not account for the injuries to the left side of the head which he said were indicative of a linear object hitting Mr Ferrar
"Let's assume this, he received the injuries to the face well before he received the injuries with a linear hard object to the back left side of the skull," Mr Briggs said.
"Would you accept that it is reasonably possible, even if it is not the most likely that he could actually have been deceased as a consequence of the facial injuries before he was struck in the back of the head?."
Professor Williams said it was a possibility.
After Mr Briggs finished questioning Professor Williams, Crown Prosecutor Nigel Rees asked what kind of condition a person who suffered a fatal head injury earlier in the day.
"They would be comatose, or maybe unable to speak," Professor Williams told the court saying it would be unlikely someone in that condition would be able to walk.
Mr Rees closed his case.
Originally published as Pathologist tells of gruesome cause of death