A MAN accused of the murder of Wade Still, who was twice set on fire at Whitebridge on a night in 2018, says he had nothing to do with Mr Still being set alight the second time and was simply giving another man a lift to a disused quarry to refuel his motorbike.
But the prosecution says Troy McCosker, now 50, had formed "an agreement" with the other man, who about an hour earlier had first set Mr Still on fire, to return to the quarry and "finish him off" by again pouring petrol near him and setting him alight.
Mr McCosker has pleaded not guilty to murder and an alternative charge of laying petrol with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and faced the first day of a trial in Newcastle Supreme Court on Friday.
During his opening address, senior crown prosecutor Christopher Maxwell, QC, told the jury that while Mr McCosker had remained in his car during the second attack and had not actually set fire to Mr Still he was guilty of murder because he had entered into a "joint criminal enterprise" with the other man to "finish off" the badly burnt Mr Still.
Mr Maxwell told the jury Mr McCosker had picked up the other man, who has pleaded guilty, will give evidence during the trial and cannot be identified, after he had initially set Mr Still, 23, on fire after midnight on August 20, 2018.
"Mr McCosker became aware of the situation, of the condition that Mr Still was in during a conversation at the Whitebridge cemetery," Mr Maxwell said.
"[The other man] will say that he told Mr McCosker that Wade Still has been burnt by petrol in the quarry and said to him: "I think Wade is in a bad way".
Mr Maxwell said the prosecution alleges Mr McCosker then drove the other man back to the quarry, where Mr McCosker stopped his car and allegedly said: "He's just laying there on the ground".
It was then that the prosecution allege that the other man said to Mr McCosker: "should we ring an ambulance or should I just finish him off".
"Well the ambulance was certainly not called by either of them," Mr Maxwell said. "Instead, in what can only be seen as a calculated agreement between the two men, they drove to a woman's house to get more petrol."
Mr Maxwell told the jury Mr McCosker drove the other man to a woman's house to get a jerry can full of petrol and returned to the quarry.
Mr McCosker remained in the car, while the other man again set Mr Still on fire, Mr Maxwell said.
During his opening address, defence barrister Terry Healey told the jury that they would ultimately not accept the evidence of the other man, saying he was "fundamentally a liar, deceitful, unworthy of believing and untrustworthy".
Mr Healey said the other man had made a statement to police only last year implicating Mr McCosker.
"[Mr McCosker] will tell you that he had nothing to do with the second burning of the deceased," Mr Healey said. "He was unaware that the deceased had been previously burnt. "He had no knowledge of what [the other man] was going to do with the petrol other than put it into the motorcycle. "He had no knowledge of what had taken place on the side of the road. "He remained in the vehicle....playing with his phone."
The trial, before Justice Robert Allan Hulme, is expected to run for a number of weeks.
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