Vic murder accused claims he's been framed

Amber Wilson

An accused killer says a "dirty rat" falsely dobbed him in to police - "dragging him through hell" - as he denies murdering his mate.

Christopher John Lavery, 31, on Monday entered the witness box at the Supreme Court of Victoria where he is standing trial for the murder of 24-year-old cannabis dealer James Russouw.

The victim was found with a long knife in his neck, and his body and car on fire beside a suburban sports oval in 2008.

Lavery said "witness A", who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is a "dirty rat for lying".

"I don't like that he lied and put me through this situation. He's dragged me through hell," Lavery told the court.

The accused accepted that his palm print was lifted from a plastic drink bottle found in Mr Russouw's torched Jeep, but he denied suggestions by prosecutor Nanette Rogers he used it to set alight a fire trail to burn the body.

Lavery said he had been in Mr Russouw's car for a drug deal before his death and may have touched or drank from the bottle during the exchange.

He further denied a number of claims linking him to the killing raised during the trial, including that he had a gambling debt of $19,000 and that he'd owned a knife with a taped handle.

Lavery also denied he'd disappeared part way through a movie he was watching with witness A on the night of Mr Russouw's murder.

Lavery said he did "absolutely not" kill Mr Russouw and had not confessed to the murder as claimed by witness A and another witness.

Evidence suggesting he approached people in prison about getting witness A "knocked" were ridiculous, Lavery added.

Victoria Police advertised a $1 million reward for information leading to a conviction in the case in March 2016, with witness A giving his new account to police soon afterwards.

The witness claims that Lavery left the movie part way through and did not return, and later confessed to having slit Mr Russouw's throat.

The trial continues.