Drugs, cash possible factors in Vic murder

Drugs and money may have led to the murder of a man whose body was dumped after three men ambushed him on a Victorian bridge, a court has heard.

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Mount Gambier man Gordon Hamm had just scooped about $5000 or $6000 on the pokies and may have used the cash to stock up on drugs before he was tracked down and killed, Crown prosecutor Michele Williams QC said on Wednesday.

Mount Gambier men Mark James Moreland, 35, Christopher Nathan Tippens, 29, and 21-year-old Tai Thorp have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Hamm in the Victorian town of Nelson in the early hours of July 17 last year.

Ms Williams said Mr Hamm was a passenger in a woman’s car that was travelling from Portland in Victoria to Mount Gambier in South Australia when it was blocked on a bridge by the three men, who were in two cars.

She said Moreland produced a rifle before Mr Hamm was dragged out of the car.

“He is repeatedly bashed with the butt of his rifle,” Ms Williams told the Victorian Supreme Court.

The petrified woman drove away from the scene and headed toward Mount Gambier, she said.

Two brothers camping at the site reported hearing raised voices, a gunshot and Mr Hamm screaming, Ms Williams said, and then Mr Hamm fled down the embankment to a nearby picnic area where he was bashed again.

Ms Williams said one witness saw the side door of Thorp’s car slightly ajar, with something jammed in it.

She alleged the men disposed of Mr Hamm’s body in a nearby plantation, and torched the car.

Mr Hamm’s blood was found on the bridge and police also located items consistent with a violent struggle or attack at the picnic area, including a broken piece rifle, a damaged bollard and Mr Hamm’s Ugg boots which tested positive for gunshot residue.

A rifle found at Tippens’ brother’s house months later matched the broken piece perfectly, Ms Williams said.

She said there were a couple of possible motives for the alleged slaying, and told the jury several people involved in the case were known to each other.

“You’re going to hear the accused and many of the witnesses were involved in the drug world,” Ms Williams said.

She said Mr Hamm could have been carrying large quantities of cash or drugs.

“And they wanted it,” Ms Williams said of the three men.

But she said it also appeared Mr Hamm owed money to a number of people, alleging Tippens and Moreland had spoken to one of them about paying Mr Hamm a visit and giving him a “touch up”.

“They did pay him a visit, in the middle of the night on a bridge,” Ms Williams said.

Phone records would be largely used to prove Thorp was involved, the court heard.

The defence will address the jury on Thursday.