A man charged with the alleged murder of Wade Still was in an “ongoing and violent feud” with the 23-year-old in the days before his death, a court has been told.
Newcastle local court heard the feud between Troy McCosker, 49, and the Belmont man who died this week involved Mr Still allegedly stealing from Mr McCosker and an alleged armed invasion of his home.
Mr Still was found with extensive burns on the side of Oakdale Road, Whitebridge, in the early hours of Monday morning. He died on the way to hospital.
Mr McCosker, of Belmont North, applied for bail when he faced court on Thursday, but Magistrate Robert Stone refused.
Mr Stone said he believed the prosecution had a “reasonably strong” circumstantial case.
He said facts tendered to him on Thursday afternoon showed Mr McCosker was “there when the final act of throwing petrol onto the injured Mr Still occurred”.
Mr Stone said the facts indicated a possible motive and showed Mr McCosker was in a vehicle at the scene when Mr Still was allegedly set alight by another person.
“A murder charge is always serious. The facts in this matter are horrendous,” he said.
“An effort had been made, but it required further petrol to finish the job off.”
Mr McCosker’s defence said the police case was “speculative” and “very, very, poor”.
Barrister Terrence Healey argued the 49-year-old didn’t know Mr Still was at the scene.
Mr Healey said Mr McCosker was “merely like a taxi driver” for co-accused David John McCauley, 35, who faced court on Wednesday.
“It doesn’t make him substantially involved,” Mr Healey told the court.
The court heard Mr McCosker picked up Mr McCauley thinking they were taking a jerry can of petrol to a motorbike.
Mr Healey said Mr McCosker did not leave the vehicle when the pair stopped at Oakdale Road early on Monday morning and he saw nothing other than Mr McCauley take the petrol and walk behind the vehicle.
“[He] didn’t even know Mr Still was there, yet [he is] charged with murder,” he said.
The police prosecutor said Mr McCosker’s version of events was “impossible to believe”.
He said Mr McCosker and Mr Still had been involved in an “ongoing and violent feud” in the days before Mr Still’s death which involved Mr Still committing thefts, an armed home invasion and kidnapping.
“It’s an incredible coincidence that the person he’s in a feud with is lying in a ditch burning and he’s parked three metres away,” the prosecutor told the court.
He rebuffed the defence’s claim that Mr McCosker should be afforded his liberty, saying police had concerns that Mr McCosker could possibly attempt to interfere with witnesses if was allowed to walk free.
Mr McCosker said “I love you” to several supporters in the public gallery as he was led from the dock after his appearance on Thursday afternoon.
He will face court again on November 15, via audio-visual link.
Police from the State Crime Command’s homicide squad joined officers from Lake Macquarie and Newcastle police districts to form Strike Force Yaraandoo this week to investigate Mr Still’s death.
A passing taxi driver discovered the 23-year-old with extensive burns about 1am on Monday.
Paramedics and fire crews attended the scene but Mr Still died as he was being air-lifted to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.
Mr McCosker was charged with murder on Wednesday night.
It came after police charged his co-accused, Mr McCauley, on Tuesday.
Police allege both Mr McCauley and Mr McCosker were known to Mr Still.
The investigation into Mr Still’s death is continuing, a NSW Police statement said.
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