Disturbing audio of a NSW man calling triple-0 to cover up the death of the mate he later admitted killing has been obtained by 7NEWS.
In the recording, which you can hear in the video above, Adam Bennett, 44, can be heard telling the operator that his friend Peter Hillier, 64, fell out of a moving vehicle.
But prosecutors called it a “spectacular lie” because Bennett was later found guilty of bashing his friend in the head with a rock out the back of a rural art gallery on the Eyre Peninsula in May 2022.
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The two friends, last known to have lived in Lake Haven on the NSW Central Coast, were travelling in South Australia in a motor home Hillier had recently purchased, and staying in a Venus Bay chalet.
They were drinking outside the art gallery with its owner Ronald Miller in Poochera, about 70km from Venus Bay, when the Bennett bashed Hillier with the rock, prosecutors said during the Supreme Court trail without a jury.
The gallery owner, a key witness in the trial, said he saw Bennett “grind a rock” into Hillier’s face, and told him to stop, before leaving the area.
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The owner of a Poochera art gallery saw Bennett hit Hillier with a rock in a fit of rage while the trio were drinking outside. Credit: 7NEWSThe gallery owner told the court he asked Bennett to stop, before leaving the area. Credit: 7NEWS
His evidence makes Bennett’s call to triple-0 the day after the bashing incident all the more disturbing.
In the call, Bennett claimed Hillier had fallen out of a moving motor home in which the pair had been travelling after drinking too much on a fishing trip.
“He’s sort of run himself over, and then I’ve sort of had to jump in the driver’s seat, pull over, run and see if he’s all right ,” Bennett says in the audio recording.
“Bit of a silly thing on his behalf.
“He was bleeding, but he just was stubborn, he’s like: ‘I want to go home and have a shower’.”
Peter Hillier was found dead in a Venus Bay holiday home in May last year, after Bennett called triple-0 from a payphone. Credit: 7NEWSBennett told the triple-0 operator that Hillier fell from his motor home while it was moving, and ran himself over. Credit: 7NEWSThe court heard that Bennett used the motor home to transport Hillier’s body to the Venus Bay rental, where it was located the next day. Credit: 7NEWS
The court heard that after the attack, Bennett transported Hillier’s body in the motor home, back to the Venus Bay chalet where they were staying.
The next day, Bennet went to a payphone and called triple-0.
Emergency services responding to the call found Hillier inside, and claimed he had been dead for some time.
Bennett pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, but on day five of the trial pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
7NEWS understands that he offered to plead guilty to manslaughter in the months leading up to the trial, but the plea was rejected by the prosecution.
However, on August 25 the prosecution abandoned the murder trial and accepted the lesser plea of manslaughter.
Bennett is due to be sentenced in November.
– With AAP
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