1493350102751 - Street attacker guilty of murdering Nelson man Philip Quayle in Cairns

Street attacker guilty of murdering Nelson man Philip Quayle in Cairns

A man who choked a Nelson man to death during a random street attack in Cairns has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Jake Desmond Livingstone, 22, was found guilty by a jury in the Cairns Supreme Court on Friday, The Cairns Post reported.

Livingstone attacked Quayle, punching and strangling him, in Spence St in the early hours of February 26, 2015.

The jury took close to four hours to reach its verdict.

* Murder-accused ‘lost it’ before attack
* Death of former Kiwi in Cairns investigated
* Lawyer challenges witness accounts of fatal attack

Quayle, 27, attended Nelson College and had been living in Cairns, working as a chef at an award-winning seafood restaurant.

He was about 100 metres from home when Livingstone, who had reportedly consumed up to nine jugs of beer, attacked him.

A key witness, Samantha Sky French, told the court that Livingstone said “let’s roll them” before setting upon Quayle.

An autopsy showed Quayle had head injuries and was suffering heart disease with one of his arteries significantly blocked.

Defence lawyer Josh Trevino said it was plausible that the cause of death was due to Quayle’s heart condition and intoxication.

Crown prosecutor Michael Cowan QC said the key consideration for the jury was whether Livingstone intended to kill Quayle.

He said the act of shouting “die” while choking Quayle proved this.

“At that moment or within those minutes he meant it,” Cowan said.

“That’s murder.

“Drunk though he was, he knew what he was doing. He just didn’t care.”

During the trial, the jury heard a recording a phone conversation between Livingstone and another man more than three months after the attack, The Cairns Post reported.

Livingstone said he had just been out on parole for two days before he “got smashed” and “rolled” someone.

“How’s that, get out for two days, go kill someone and come back,” Livingstone said in the recording.

“Got out on parole, got my parole date, got smashed and went and rolled this c… for his money, then bashed him and choked him.”

The court was also played an interview between Livingstone and police where he initially said he wasn’t involved but changed his story about what happened after being shown the evidence of two key witnesses.

During questioning by the detectives one asked why he had initially lied about his involvement.

“I was scared, I f….. up and got to face the consequences,” he said.

He told the officers he was scared about “life in jail” and thought Quayle was alive when he left him on the road.

At the end of the interview a detective asked if there was any more Mr Livingstone wanted to add.

He responded: “Sorry to his family, I guess.”

Forensic pathologist Dr Paul Botterill, who performed the autopsy, ruled the cause of his death inconclusive.

He said the head injuries, neck compression from strangulation or the heart disease could all have been responsible.

The head injuries were the most likely cause, he said.

But a second pathologist, Prof Johan Duflou, said he disagreed with the head injury conclusion.

He said a short run taken by Quayle before the attack, his intoxication and the undiagnosed heart disease could have caused his death.

“It’s something that can’t be excluded as a reasonable possibility.”

He said the lack of evidence of a strangling meant neck compression was a “very unlikely cause of death”.

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