‘Multiple threats’ before execution-style killing
More than 23 years ago, Philip Carlyle was shot dead at point-blank range in a soundproof plant room at the offices of the Gold Coast IT start-up where he worked.
But his business partner Neil Andrew Pentland, 72, is not the person who fired four bullets into the 48-year-old father's head in a "methodical execution" while Mr Carlyle was at work on a Sunday morning, says defence barrister Saul Holt QC.
Pentland is on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court over the alleged killing of Mr Carlyle on April 13, 1997 at Robina.
He pleaded not guilty to murder during the first day of his judge-alone trial on Monday.
Pentland and Mr Carlyle met on the Gold Coast through their children's soccer team and later began working together in an IT start-up business Atnet, the court heard.
Crown Prosecutor David Meredith said during his opening address, Mr Carlyle had been hired as the marketing manager of the business but had previously operated a number of failed businesses and had former business partners who "didn't think well of him".
The court heard on the morning that Mr Carlyle was killed, he met Pentland at their office to discuss a business deal.
The court heard the security alarm at Atnet had been deactivated at 9.28am and Mr Carlyle had sent a number of emails in the next hour, but emails to his account sent after 11.02am went unread.
Pentland told police in 1997 he left the office that morning and spoke to another man, John Hitchen, about a car service at his Reedy Creek home about 11am.
The court heard Hitchen's former partner later told police she once saw him take a pistol out of a box and show another person.
Mr Meredith told the court she would give evidence that shortly after Pentland visited them "on a Sunday" Mr Hitchen was upset and the pair went for a drive and he had the box the weapon was in.
Mr Meredith argued the motive for the killing included that Pentland and Mr Carlyle's partnership had "deteriorated", with the marketing manager's emails being forwarded to Pentland.
He told the court Mr Carlyle was insisting on taking trips overseas, but not investing any money in the business.
Mr Meredith also argued Mr Carlyle was having an online romance with a woman in the US and this was part of his drive to travel overseas.
Mr Holt QC argued "there is no doubt" that Mr Carlyle was murdered in an "execution-style killing at the Atnet offices in Robina".
"The only issue for this trial is whether the Crown can prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Pentland is the murderer and our submission ultimately is that it cannot (be proven beyond reasonable doubt)," he said.
The court heard defence arguments that other people would have had the opportunity to commit the murder, which Mr Holt QC argued had "occurred well after" Pentland left the office that day in 1997.
"Mr Carlyle had received … multiple threats from a range of other people over very many years," he said.
" … The police narrowed their focus on Mr Pentland far too early in this investigation and the result is a desperately thin circumstantial case."
The court heard no DNA or gun powder residue was ever found on Pentland's body after the killing.
Mr Carlyle's widow, Gion Tansley, gave evidence that two men came to her home looking for money sometime before her husband was killed.
The court heard they held a knife to her throat during the ordeal, but she never reported the incident to police.
The trial continues and is expected to run for four weeks.
Originally published as 'Multiple threats' before execution-style killing