OUR REPORTS ARE IN DETAIL, UPDATED AS IT HAPPENS, FROM OTHER DIRECT SOURCES
TUESDAY, 24TH JUNE, 2014.
Dr Flegg, “The scream was a single, reverse crescendo volume, tapering off. What I would describe as having an involuntary quality”.
The screams occurred at 10:53pm. I checked the time on my mobile phone.
Dr John, “I didn’t find any diatoms in Allison’s liver or bone marrow. If Allison had drowned, I would have expected to find diatoms in her body.”
Dr Bruce Flegg, a parliamentary backbencher and medical doctor, has been called to the stand.
Dr Flegg and GBC have been friends for a number of years.
Dr Flegg, of Brookfield, testifies that he was in bed, talking on the phone to Sue Heath on 19th April, 2012 when he heard a female scream.
Dr Flegg, “The scream was a single, reverse crescendo volume, tapering off. What I would describe as having an involuntary quality. I live in an elevated part of Brookfield, which is a very quiet area, the sound came from the general direction of the show grounds of Brookfield. My bedroom faces towards the showgrounds. It was distressing and I’m not one to be distressed by things I hear. I asked Sue, “what was that?” I then walked outside and looked around. I then came back inside and heard a second scream, the tone and nature were exactly the same. The screams occurred at 10:53pm. I checked the time on my mobile phone.
I don’t have any doubt about what I heard, I cannot be sure how far away it was.”
Dr Flegg is showing the court a map of where his house is in relation to the Brookfield Showgrounds (editor note: Dr Flegg’s house is closer, in bound, elevated up on a slight escarpment, although he is not overlooking the showgrounds, as the crow flies, he isn’t far from GBC house at all).
Dr Flegg, “I didn’t hear any unusual noises between 9pm and 10pm” (Editor: Ann Rhodes lives closer to Dr Flegg, her house isn’t elevated but down near the creek, where you cross a bitumen bridge).
Dr Flegg, “I spoke to Gerard on a number of occasions through the local chamber of commerce”. I called him in December, 2011, and asked to catch up. I went to see Gerard at his new office in Taringa as Gerard had a situation in his business. Gerard’s business partners had left and Gerard needed to raise $400,000.00. I asked Gerard who his partners were and he declined to answer. I asked Gerard if he was looking for an equity partner, he was adamant he didn’t want that. He was looking to borrow money as he wanted to keep his equity at whatever level it was at the time.
In February 2012, I saw Gerard at a chamber of commerce meeting. Gerard seemed to be a bit annoyed with me, and accused me of telling people that his business was in trouble. I assured him that I hadn’t said anything. On 6th March, 2012, I received a message from Gerard asking me to call. I was in the election period, so I was very busy, so I asked Sue Heath to return Gerard’s call. Sue Heath advised me that Gerard had asked again to borrow money, I called him back on 11th March, 2012. It was a short call in response to the loan request. I saw Gerard socially on occasion, although I don’t believe that I met Allison, nor Toni McHugh. I have visited the real estate office once or twice”.
Defence asked about the scream.
Dr Flegg, “The scream was quite a disturbing event”.
Defence asks why Dr Flegg checked the front yard if he thought it came from far away.
Dr Flegg, “I thought it was a couple of house blocks”. (Editor note: Some house blocks in the early Brookfield area’s older estates are two and a half acres).
Dr Flegg, “My house would be at least a kilometer from the Baden-Clay home. I would be extremely surprised if the screams had come from so far away.” (Editor: Acoustics in the Brookfield area are surprisingly clear and far reaching due to the area being hilly, in my view, this gives perfect acoustics).
Dr Flegg, “Gerard’s loan request was probably out of the ordinary but not dramatically left field. I was surprised, but not a lot. At the time, I was attempting to fund a purchase of a property in New York.”
Defence: “Gerard didn’t seek to pursue the loan request when you called him back, he’d moved on”.
Dr Flegg, “Yes”.
Robert Cheesman has taken the stand, he owns a consulting business and is friends with GBC.
Mr Cheesman, “I met Gerard in 1983 in high school, we’ve been close friends ever since. Gerard was my best man at my wedding. Gerard told me in February, 2011, that he had suffered some setbacks after the floods and his partners left.” (Editor’s note, hmmmmm we recall the partner’s testimony, which is not as per this statement).
“I lent Gerard $90,000 in March, April and May, 2011, two of our friends also lent Gerard money. The business was clearly in trouble but I saw a way out.
The expenses were too high, they were paying too much rent and also had staffing issues. There wasn’t a written agreement, it was agreed that Gerard would pay 10% interest. I received three or four months on interest payments from Gerard, although I didn’t receive any of the $90,000.00 back. I was fairly heavily involved in the business, reviewing all the payments in and out until September/October, 2011. Gerard and I would talk several times a week. In October, 2011, I advised Gerard to buy out the rent roll. Gerard received his finance from his former partners who had sold him the rent roll.”
“I have met Toni McHugh but I didn’t know her, nor did I know of the affair. I have an accounting background and was rigorously going through Gerard’s business records.”
Defence asked about expenses.
Mr Cheeseman, “For the first six months I approved every expense, Gerard was definitely optimistic about the business. We wouldn’t have lent Gerard the money if we didn’t think he would pay it back. I didn’t make a demand for the money. I do believe that Gerard’s credit card debt was his only personal debt.
In June, after Gerard’s arrest, the rent roll reverted back to the former partners. I believe that Gerard was always optimistic and I also believe that Allison had admiral ambitions, I would describe her as optimistic.”
Defence: “Were you aware that Allison wanted a son?”.
Cheesman, “I was aware of that. I knew Allison was suffering from depression and that Gerard found it hard. My company and Gerard’s company were both once listed in BRW’s fastest growing companies”. (Editor’s note: There seems to be a trend that Gerard’s friends run down Allison and support this suicide theory with their comments. Why are Allison’s friends, bar one, not on the stand?)
Cheesman, “I remember Nigel asking if I could find Gerard a lawyer after Allison disappeared. I blew Nigel off and told him it wasn’t necessary and that they should focus on finding Allison”.
Stuart Christ has been called to the stand, Stuart and Gerard attended school and university together. Their children attended school together.
Mr Christ said that in recent years they probably weren’t as close, before that, they were close.
Mr Christ, “My wife and I gave Gerard and Allison a loan for their business. In February, 2012, I received a call from Gerard saying that the business wasn’t doing well. It was a fairly vague call.”
“I then saw Gerard with Cheesman and another friend, we were told that the business’ cash flow was in trouble following the floods. Gerard told us that he had hired a lot of new staff, that they were in a much larger office and were paying more rent. The business would have been in severe trouble in 2011 if not for a cash injection. The three of us loaned Gerard money and pushed the business to reduce expenditure. I gave Gerard $90,000.00 over three payments in March and April, 2011. The idea was that we would be paid 10% interest each month until we received the $90,000.00 back plus a cap of $90,000.o0 in interest. I received three interest payments from Gerard. I have not received an interest payment since around July, 2011 and I did not receive the $90,000.00 back. The sales arm of the business had a negative cash flow when Gerard asked for a loan. It wasn’t worth anything. Gerard took over the rent roll in 2011, after receiving finance from his former partners. I did not speak to Allison about the loans although the cash was paid into Gerard and Allison’s joint business account.”
“I may have met Toni McHugh, although I don’t recall her. I wasn’t aware of the affair”.
Allison became more involved in the business in late 2011 which actually gave us a lot of comfort. My impression was that Allison was involved in the management of the rental business and the business in general. During one discussion we asked Gerard to confirm something with Allison, we actually pushed the point that Allison was to be involved. I did not speak directly to Allison at the time of the loan. After the loan, we required very regular updates on the business, the sales and expenditures. In late 2011, we became more comfortable that the business would survive, although at various times Gerard would ask for more money, which we didn’t give him”.
(Editor’s note: NBC’s phone and internet bills were paid out of the business they were quite hefty).
“I would have had to borrow more money to invest more money in Gerard’s business and I did not want to do that”.
Mr Christ, “Our families would occasionally go camping together. Allison would be removed, or quiet and reclusive at times. If I dropped the children off, Allison would be at the door smiling and happy, other times she would not come out. It wasn’t a big deal, that was Allison.”
“I didn’t make a demand for repayment on the $90,000.00 loan I gave Gerard, we weren’t terribly worried, as we were getting interest”.
“The business had significant fixed costs that would take time to reduce. Gerard needed to downsize vehicles from a Lexus to a Captiva, cut staff and sublet part of the office space. By the end of 2011, I was not as worried and more comfortable, as we would see that the money came back at some stage. It gave me great comfort to see Allison and Gerard working together in the business.
I received a phone call on 20th April, 2012, and was quite distraught and concerned about the line of questioning from the police. Nigel said that they were going after Gerard. I told Nigel that they should focus on finding Allison. I gave Nigel the number of a lawyer who I went to school with.
Allison was fine before Easter 2012.
Peter Cranna, an accountant and friend of GBC’s has taken the stand
Cranna, “Gerard and I have been friends for more than 20 years, we met while working together in an accounting firm. We attended each other’s weddings, we went camping each year, we had dinners and coffee.
I had lent money to Gerard in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 of which he paid back. The amounts included $50,000, $24,000, and $19,000. Gerard paid back $6000 in February, 2011. We have a friendship and he talked to me about his business. I was willing to lend him some money for his business to succeed. Gerard supplied the reports when I asked for them. Two of Gerard’s friends, Mr Christ and Mr Cheesman and myself formed an advisory group for the business in 2011. We thought that we could assist by looking at the cost structures of the business. The general conditions of the real estate business at that time were difficult, as the floods had had a negative effect.
We drafted an agreement before lending Gerard money, although it wasn’t ever signed. It was a loan, there wasn’t a term on the loan, and I don’t remember the interest rate. Of the $50,000, $24,000 and $19,000 loans, as of April, 2012, Gerard owed approximately $96,000.00.
I did not know Toni McHugh and I was not aware of the affair until after Allison went missing. I was aware that Allison was involved in the business from time to time and that she became more involved in the business in 2011.”
Defence: “You have been a chartered accountant since 1991 and you have many qualifications. Two loans, before 2008, were repaid with interest?”
Mr Cranna, “I did not make demands for the remainder. The business was involved in reducing the business costs and increasing sales, the business was going through a growth phase. In the market conditions of that time, there were too many staff. After the three of us came on board in 2011, sales picked up to a better level and I was happy with the direction and the trend that the business was travelling.”
Defence: “Have you known Gerard to grow a beard in the past?”
Mr Cranna: “He had more impressive facial hair that I did.”
(Editor – this was a pertinent question, no cross examination?).
Professor James Wallman, a forensic entomologist since 1990, is giving evidence by phone.
Professor Wallman was given samples of insects, by the police, on the afternoon of 30th April, 2012, they asked him to identify and provide a minimum time since Allison’s death. Professor Wallman was also asked whether he could tell if Allison’s body was submerged in the creek where she was found.
Professor Wallman, “I initially had to identify the type of insects and use temperature information. I then had to determine how long it would have taken the insects to develop to that extent. I can then estimate the person has been dead for at least that amount of time. Allison could have been dead for at least three to four days in good temperatures, more time in a cooler temperature. It is possible for the flies to have gone through a full cycle and left the body which would be consistent with Allison being dead for 11 days. I couldn’t reach a conclusion on whether her body had been submerged.
I didn’t receive additional weather data to analyse.
It would be normal for flies to lay eggs at intervals.
Dr Jacob John from Perth. Dr John is a retired professor, his expertise is diatoms (algae), a microscopic organism found in water. Dr John will now give evidence via phone.
Dr John, “Diatoms do not decompose if they enter the human body, they stay there. I was provided with water samples from Kholo Creek, and a piece of Allison’s liver tissue as well as some bone, marrow intact.
There is a population explosion of diatoms in Kholo Creek. In the typical drowning scenario, diatoms will enter the human body. Diatoms in a body is evidence of drowning. I didn’t find any diatoms in Allison’s liver or bone marrow. If Allison had drowned, I would have expected to find diatoms in her body.
My conclusion is that Allison did not drown in Kholo Creek or anywhere. There isn’t any evidence of drowning at all.”
DEFENCE: “You do not have any experience in pathology.”
DR JOHN: “No, I have studied human biology”.
DEFENCE: “Tissues from the lungs and stomach are best for diatom testing.”
Professor Olaf drummer, a toxicologist with more than 25 years experience has been called to the stand.
Professor Drummer was given a toxicology report on Allison.
“Allison had sertraline and alcohol in her blood. The sertraline is an anti-depressant, more commonly known as Zoloft. The usual starting dose is 50mg but can range up to 200mg. A tolerance to the side effects of sertraline can be developed. Patients can start with a low dose and doctors might increase the dose to achieve more of an effect. Sertraline is relatively non-toxic. .1mg up to .3mg per litre of blood would be normal in someone taking sertraline. The concentrations will change throughout the course of the day, with the levels of sertraline in the blood increasing after death as it will move from tissues to blood. Allison had a blood alcohol level of .095, this could have been from post mortem changes in the body. It is quite common to find alcohol concentrations in a body that has been exposed to the elements. The concentration of sertraline in Allison’s blood was on the higher side, clinically. The levels could have been affected by the decomposition of the body. The sample that I had was from the liver. Liver readings would have been higher. I would not ever rule out death from sertraline alone but I say it would be very unusual. I would expect much higher levels of sertraline in Allison’s blood if she had overdosed.”
Defence: “If on 100mg per day, the average person would have .03mg and highest .05mg in their blood. Professor Drummer says .1. Will the side effects of Sertraline be agitation, anxiety, paranoia, abnormal thinking?”
Professor Drummer, “Sometimes”.
Defence: “Can Sertraline cause serotonin syndrome?”
Professor Drummer, “Yes it can”.
Defence: “.59mg sertraline was in Allison’s blood. It is substantially higher than would be expected?”.
Professor Drummer, “No. The blood was collected next to the liver from a decomposing body, the levels would have been elevated”.
Defence, “The level was still higher than expected.”
Professor Drummer, “Not in my view, no. You cannot be too precise about what the concentrations represent. In my view the Sertraline is unlikely to be the cause of Allison’s death. I cannot exclude it though. Side effects of Sertraline would have been present early on and then would have dissipated.
Martin Giles, a hydraulic engineer has been called to the stand.
Mr Giles assessed the flood levels at Kholo Creek for the police.
Mr Giles, “I obtained rain data for the area. On 22nd May, 2012, I visited Kholo Creek where Allison’s body was found. There was a depression on the ground where her body had been. When I returned on 21st August, 2012, the depression was still there. There wasn’t much difference in size. The mouth of the creek is 120m from the bridge. Kholo Creek is tidal. There was a 2m difference in tides. There was rain in the creek catchment on 27th and 28th April, 2012 between 80mm and 100mm. Allison’s body was 1.4m and 1.5m above mean sea level. I do not believe that the tide levels would have been enough to move a body. Allison’s body was at 1.4m – 1.5m above mean sea level, highest tide would have reached 1.5m above mean sea level.”
Defence: “Your opinion is based on the charts, not the observations of the tide actually moving. There isn’t a rain gauge available at Kholo Creek. The information had to be taken from nearby.”
The defence points to a photo, pointing out the discolouration in the bank above Allison’s body.
Defence, “Is this the high tide line?”
Mr Giles, “It could be, but it could be other things.”
Dr Gordon Guymer, director and botanist of the Queensland Herbarium has taken the stand.
Dr Guymer, “I received specimens of plants taken from Allison’s body on 28th June. I looked at them under a microscope before comparing them to the known specimens. I identified seven leaves of crepe myrtle entwined in Allison’s hair. Three leaflets of Cat’s Claw Creeper were identified. Chinese Elm was also found with the body. I found four of those species entwined in Allison’s hair. The crepe myrtle leaves were fallen leaves. The Cat’s Claw creeper leaf was pulled from a plant, it was attached at the time. The Cat’s Claw creeper grows up in trees along the ground. The seven fishbone fern leaves seemed to be fresh and fallen. The parts of eucalypt leaves and bark were no doubt fallen. The Chinese Elm leaf looks to be a fallen leaf.
I also looked at the grass and leaf fragments from the Baden-Clay car, including the footwells.”
Dr Guymer attended Kholo Creek on 13th July to conduct a botanical survey of the area.
Dr Guymer, “I found Chinese Elm and Eucalypts in the distance. Those were only two of the six species of plant found at Kholo Creek.”
Dr Guymer, “There is a crepe myrtle at the house, visible from the street, I took some samples of the crepe myrtle. I also found a fallen branch of lillypilly at the house.”
Photographs: Different plant species growing around the Baden-Clay house.
Photograph: Photo of the garden, Dr Guymer points out crepe myrtles and cat’s claw creeper.
Dr Guymer, “There are crepe myrtles and cat’s claw creeper growing alongside the carport area.
Photograph: Another view of the carport area showing cat’s claw creeper growing along the ground, as well as the crepe myrtle.
Photograph: Carport area shows fishbone fern and crepe myrtle close by.
Photograph: Fishbone fern and crepe myrtle leaf litter along the rear patio area.
Dr Guymer also found fishbone fern on the ground on the back patio.
Four of the plants found on Allison were growing at the rear patio area. Others along the carport and towards the front of the house.
Dr Guymer, “I returned to Kholo Creek bridge on 19th July to complete another survey. Chinese Elm and Eucalypt only found. I went to the nearby scout camp and travelled along the area and I did not find other plants.”
Dr Guymer, “I returned to Kholo Creek on later occasions to confirm those species were not there. They definitely were not there.”
Dr Guymer will continue tomorrow.
ADJOURNED UNTIL 10:00AM
Allison Baden-Clay disappearance in pictures:
Any possible copyrighted material included is property of their rightful owners, no copyright infringement is intended.