Sunday 19 January 2020

CCTV 'catches deaf housemates discussing in sign language how to murder their friend'

Robert Right fell from his balcony minutes after the trio were filmed ‘discussing plot’

A special hearing is underway at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne
A special hearing is underway at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne

Harry Cockburn

Three deaf housemates were caught on CCTV using sign language to discuss the murder of their friend, minutes before he was thrown off a balcony.

Jake Fairest, Warwick Toohey and Georgia Fields are accused of murdering Robert Right, who suffered severe head injuries after falling from a second floor apartment in Melbourne in January 2015.

The trio were found unfit to stand trial due to intellectual disabilities and instead a special hearing in the Supreme Court of Victoria is underway which will determine if they committed the crime.

Mr Fairest and Ms Fields have pleaded not guilty, while Mr Toohey has pleaded not guilty on grounds of mental impairment, Australia’s ABC News reports.

The court heard that CCTV cameras in the foyer and lift of their apartment building captured the trio using sign language to discuss the murder of Mr Wright.

Prosecutor Christopher Dane QC told the court: “Ms Firleds asked Mr Fairest ‘you want dead or alive and how die?’

“Mr Fairest signs ‘can strangle neck area, what do you think?’

“Mr Toohey signs to Mr Fairest ‘strangle risky’, and Ms Fields signs ‘fall good, fall good’.”

The court heard that following the discussion, Mr Toohey and Mr Fairest confronted Mr Wright in the apartment.

The men then lifted him over the balcony handrail as Ms Fields looked on.

An eyewitness from the apartment building told police he was standing on his balcony below, and saw Mr wright hanging from the rail and holding onto someone’s hands. He said he then saw the hands let go and Mr Wright plummeted 12 metres to the ground.

Police arrived and found the trio in the apartment. Each gave a different account of what had happened, the court heard.

The friendship between Mr Wright and Mr Toohey had deteriorated since the pair had moved in together, and Mr Wright had accused Mr Toohey of stealing a tablet computer and a phone from his bedroom, a year before he was killed.

Mr Dane told the court: “They made a plan and they did it.”

Lawyers for Ms Fields and Mr Fairest denied their clients were involved in the alleged murder.

Mr Toohey’s lawyer said his client was not challenging the accusations, but would argue that he does not have the mental capacity to be held legally liable for the crime.

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