Rockhampton man Robert Martinez
Rockhampton man Robert Martinez Contributed

Rockhampton's 'seedy underbelly' exposed in murder trial

EVIDENCE of "the seedy underbelly of Rockhampton" will be heard during a double murder trial, which got underway in Rockhampton today.

It is expected to take four weeks for the evidence to be heard from 80 witnesses.

Ian Robert Armstrong and Daniel George Hong are on trial, accused of murdering Robert Martinez and Chantal Barnett between March 2-7, 2013. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Vicki Loury told the jury the evidence "will expose the seedy underbelly of Rockhampton".

 

Crown Prosecutor Vicki Loury who is prosecuting the case of Daniel George Hong and Ian Robert Armstrong who is on trial this month for the murder of Chantal Barnett and Robert Martinez.
Vicki Loury who is prosecuting the case of Daniel George Hong and Ian Robert Armstrong who are on trial for the murders of Chantal Barnett and Robert Martinez. Kerri-Anne Mesner

Ms Loury said around the time they disappeared, both Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett were using methamphetamines - smoking and injecting.

She said most of the forensic evidence was located around the Bowlin Rd, Depot Hill, area between March 4, 2013 and October 22, 2014.

Items included Mr Martinez' abandoned car, his wallet, a handbag attached to a fence and his skeletal remains.

Ms Loury said the forensic scientific officer would give evidence that he determined Mr Martinez was placed on his back, and most of his bones were found in a two metre square area.

She said evidence would include the autopsy results which were not able to determine a cause of death, however other evidence involves allegations Mr Martinez was killed by a drug overdose "half way up Mt Archer".

She told the court, other evidence to be heard over the next four weeks would include phone records which showed Mr Armstrong called or texted Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett 80 times in the week leading up to their disappearance and 30 times in the last day they were seen alive.

 

MISSING: Rockhampton woman Chantal Barnett
Photo Contributed
Rockhampton woman Chantal Barnett Contributed

Mr Martinez' defacto partner of six years, Melissa McKenzie told the court Mr Armstrong visited her Berserker residence on February 28 between about 6.30pm and 10.30pm, spending time with Mr Martinez in the garage under the house.

Mr Martinez' mother, Julie said her son turned up at her place around 11pm that night, soaking wet, after his car had broken down nearby.

She said he was alone and left in a taxi in the early hours of the morning, after arranging for his stepfather, Edward Gosbee to give him a lift to probation and parole on March 4.

Ms Martinez sobbed after telling the court she never heard from or saw her son again.

During cross examination, Mr Hong's defence barrister, Stephen Kissick questioned Ms Martinez about a night when Ms Barnett had told her that someone had kicked her door in and that "the Emerald mob are coming in next week with their glocks".

The court heard Mr Martinez had told Ms Barnett at that stage that she could not go home, to which she responded "if they are going to kill me, let them".

During the opening address, Ms Loury said other evidence would allege that Ms Barnett had stolen $10,000 of "gear" from Mr Hong and "she had a $30,000 price over her head."

She said witnesses will testify confessions made by the accused included Ms Barnett being killed and thrown into the Fitzroy River.

However, Mr Kissick told the court all the evidence involving his client was based on "rumour upon rumour".

Mr Armstrong's defence barrister, Andrew Hoare said his client had nothing to do with the deaths of Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett.

 

Solicitor Grant Cagney and Barrister Andrew Hoare who represent Ian Robert Armstrong who is on trial this month for the murder of Chantal Barnett and Robert Martinez.
Solicitor Grant Cagney and Barrister Andrew Hoare who represent Ian Robert Armstrong accused of murdering Chantal Barnett and Robert Martinez. Kerri-Anne Mesner

He pointed towards communications between Mr Armstrong and Ms McKenzie about Mr Martinez' Commodore being found on Bowlin Rd.

Mr Hoare said records showed Mr Armstrong called Mr Martinez' phone at 7.46am on March 19, then Ms Barnett's phone a minute later and then called Mr Martinez' phone again at 9.11am.

The court heard that during an ongoing Facebook chat between Mr Armstrong and Ms Mckenzie, Mr Armstrong told her he had checked the unit at Yeppoon and asked the neighbours, but Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett were not there.

The court also heard from Mr Gosbee, Ms Barnett's parents Glen and Natalie Barnett along with Ms Barnett's former partner and father of her two children, Robert Travers.

Tomorrow the trial will hear from witnesses about the evidence found on Bowlin Rd, followed by more evidence of Rockhampton's drug scene.

TIMELINE OF EVIDENCE SO FAR

February 27, 2013 - Melissa McKenzie sees Ian Robert Armstrong arrive at the Berserker home she shares with Robert Martinez about 6.30pm. She said goodnight to them at 9.30pm. She hears two car doors open and close and a car drive off about 10.30pm.

February 28 - About 11pm that night, Mr Martinez arrives at his mother's home, soaking wet and saying his car broke down nearby. He leaves again in the early hours of the morning.

March 2 - Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett last seen together alive by a witness.

The last two calls made from Ms Barnett's phone were made at 11.26am and 11.27am. The last answered call on her phone was at 1.22pm.

The last outgoing call from Mr Martinez's phone was at 11.52am.

March 16 - Ms Mckenzie is informed that Mr Martinez' Commodore is on Bowlin Rd and she goes with Mr Gosbee in the middle of the night to look. She said the windows were smashed and no keys were in it.

March 22 - First appeal for information about Mr Martinez and Ms Barnett through the media.

April 3 - Wallet located on Bowlin Rd and later identified as belonging to Mr Martinez.

October 18, 2014 - A farmer locates a handbag attached to a fence metres away from where Mr Martinez's car was located.

October 22, 2014 - A man comes across skeletal remains which are later confirmed to be Mr Martinez's.