A teenager who was found naked and acting erratically on a boat has been charged with murder over the discovery of human remains in a burnt-out car about 200km north of Perth, as friends honoured his alleged victim.
Benjamin Jack McLaughlin, 19, appeared on Thursday in Perth Magistrates Court where police alleged he killed a 38-year-old man in Nambung on Tuesday, September 26.
WATCH THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE: Benjamin McLaughlin charged over Cervantes body in burnt-out car.
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McLaughlin is said to have crashed a Mitsubishi Pajero on Indian Ocean Dr near the Cervantes Rd turnoff before his alleged victim, John Matta, drove by in a red SUV.
“It will be alleged an incident occurred between the two which resulted in the victim’s death,” WA Police said.
The alleged victim was found in the burnt-out wreckage of the Pajero on the side of the road.
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McLaughlin has been charged with murder, aggravated criminal damage by fire and stealing a motor vehicle.
He is expected back in court later this month.
Police confirmed Matta’s beloved red MG is the same vehicle found submerged in the ocean off the nearby fishing town Cervantes later on Tuesday morning.
It was also near where McLaughlin was arrested after lobster fisherman found him naked and acting strangely on a fishing boat which authorities said was drifting out to sea.
Benjamin Jack McLaughlin, 19, has appeared in Perth Magistrates Court accused of killing a 38-year-old man in Nambumg. Credit: 7NEWS
On Thursday Matta’s shocked friends honoured a man they described as a good bloke who made the most of tough circumstances.
He recently had his leg amputated and was not in great health due to diabetes.
“I think as a community we’ve been very upset by this tragic event. He was a very blessed soul and we all loved him,” friend George Gerges said.
Gerges said he was comforted knowing that Matta “was such a good person and he’s in a better place now”.
John Matta has been revealed as the man found in a burnt-out car near Cervantes. Credit: Supplied
McLaughlin was previously charged with casting away ships, assaulting a public officer, assaulting a person aiding a public officer and obstructing public officers.
He appeared in court for those allegations last week and was granted bail.
Police previously said the Pajero had left Hamilton Hill, in Perth’s southern suburbs, about 9pm on Monday and was discovered at its final resting place on Indian Ocean Dr about 12.30am the following morning.
“It’s likely it would have attracted attention because we believe the vehicle was travelling at speed during the course of that trip. Exactly what speeds we don’t know,” Detective Senior Sergeant Greg McDonald said.