Axe murderer guilty, to face sentence next year

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times

The man accused of the axe murder of Busselton man Sam Daryl Riley in 2018 was found guilty last week after representing himself in a nearly three-week long trial.

The Supreme Court trial heard multiple witness and forensic expert testimonies, as well as from the accused, Benjamin John Elliott.

Elliot maintained his innocence throughout the trial and described 31-year-old Mr Riley as his “friend” during a lengthy closing statement.

After the guilty verdict was read out by the foreman of the 12-person jury, Elliott was taken into custo-dy.

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Earlier in the trial, the Busselton District Court was told Mr Elliot had “shot up” a prescription opioid with his victim before brutally attacking him with an axe.

The body was found by a carer the next day with multiple “chop-like” wounds to the head.

Two days later, police found the murder weapon in a nearby canal, discovering the victim’s blood embedded in the axe head.

During the trial, prosecuting lawyer Brett Tooker told the court Elliott’s DNA was found in several locations inside Mr Riley’s unit including the bed, the bathroom sink, and a syringe.

“DNA results are of critical importance in this case,” Mr Tooker said.

Initially, Elliot told police he had not attended Mr Riley’s unit on the night of the murder, but in his opening address he admitted he had lied. He also admitted he was at Mr Riley’s on October 29, 2018, and had assisted him in shooting up the prescription drug Suboxone.

It is believed Mr Riley met Elliott while attending Busselton Senior High School, and although they did not attend the school at the same time, they were known acquaintances.

Elliott pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial and still denies any involvement in the murder.

Justice Stephen Hall set down a sentencing date in Perth of February 5.

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