Man found guilty of attempting to murder a corpse
October 28, 2015
Court Reporter for The Age
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A man has been found guilty of attempting to murder a corpse.
A Supreme Court jury on Wednesday accepted Daniel Darrington’s defence that he accidentally shot Rocky Matskassy during a struggle before shooting him again when Mr Matskassy was already dead.
Defence barrister John Desmond argued it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Matskassy had not died from the first shot.
“The issue is not did Darrington believe the man was alive. The issue is was he factually dead,” Mr Desmond told the jury.
“If someone’s already dead and you then try to kill him, how can that be attempted murder?
“But the law in this state is because you have the criminal intent to kill and if you, the accused, thought the person was alive, even if he was in fact dead, the law says that would be attempted murder.
“So just to quickly repeat – if Matskassy dies as a consequence of the first shot, the subsequent deliberate shots into Matskassy are not murder.”
The jury found Darrington not guilty of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter, but guilty of attempted murder. He was remanded for a pre-sentence hearing at a later date.
Prosecutor Peter Rose, SC, had told the jury the Crown case was that Darrington shot Mr Matskassy three times in the head at point blank range after telling him to get out of his mate’s house.
Mr Matskassy, 31, had been a boarder for several months at the Melton South home of Darrington’s friend, Steven Domotor.
The jury was not told Mr Domotor, who claimed to have been in the toilet when Mr Matskassy was shot, had also been charged with murder but the charge was dropped after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Mr Rose said when Mr Domotor had gone away for the weekend in March 2014, Mr Matskassy invited a friend, Belinda Martin, Mr Domotor’s former lover, to the Phillip Street house.
“That evening Martin and the deceased (Mr Matskassy) drank, played music and played on a poker machine at the house and Martin eventually slept over on a recliner in the lounge room whilst the deceased slept in his bedroom,” the prosecutor told the jury.
Mr Domotor later became angry Mr Matskassy had had people over while he was away and decided to evict him.
Darrington then confronted Mr Matskassy and shot him in the head.
Police were called and entered the house about 2.23 am on March 22 and found Mr Matskassy lying dead on the kitchen floor.
“The body had been wrapped in a black sheet and there was a large amount of blood on the floor and around the body,” the prosecutor said.
Darrington later told police he had shot Mr Matskassy in the head after a struggle in the kitchen.
“He (Darrington) said … he confronted the deceased telling him to get out of his mate’s house,” Mr Rose said.
“He stated that he had assaulted the deceased by punching and kicking him in the face.
“He said he then told the deceased to go and clean himself up in the bathroom.”
Darrington claimed the next time he saw Mr Matskassy, he was walking towards him holding a gun behind his back before they wrestled and he grabbed the gun and it accidentally discharged.
Darrington told police he thought Mr Matskassy was still alive after being shot in the head as his body was twitching.
Darrington then went to Mr Matskassy’s bedroom and found a small box of ammunition. He re-loaded the pistol and went back to where Mr Matskassy was slouched over in the kitchen and after a few minutes, he shot Mr Matskassy again.
“He said he did this because the deceased was suffering,” the prosecutor said.
“The accused said that after he shot the deceased the second time he covered him up with a sheet because he looked horrible and the accused didn’t want to look at him.”
Darrington denied wanting to later dispose of the body.
“He said that he’d laid plastic out in the boot of the car because he was going to take the deceased to hospital, and that he didn’t want him to bleed all over the seats or to draw other people’s attention.”