Police have shared more details around the events that led to authorities discovering human remains in a burnt-out tree trunk at a regional NSW property.
The grisly discovery was made in the search for missing man David Collisson, 53, who they allege was shot and killed by Eric James Forrest, 33, on a sprawling acreage at Wilbertree Road in Menah, in the state’s central west, near Mudgee.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty alleged the altercation occurred on September 25, during a “drug-related” dispute, before Mr Forrest allegedly disposed of Mr Collisson’s remains.
Superintendent Doherty stressed that while the bones were still undergoing forensic testing, he believed a “brutal murder” had occurred.
“His (Mr Collison’s) demise was not only unsavoury, I think you can only call it callously and in cold blooded – the way he’s been killed,” he said.
The senior officer said a “large number” of inquiries were still ongoing, with police still searching for a firearm linked to the alleged murder.
“At this stage, we’ve got a very strong circumstantial case against this 33-year-old man. There’s a lot of evidence (that) has been gathered to date,” he said.
Authorities suspect other associates may have more information on the incident.
“Part of the ongoing investigation will be to locate not only the firearm that was used, but other people that may have information or who may have been present or direct knowledge of what actually happened.”
Police believe Mr Collisson went to “see associates” at the property with a friend, who later returned to Sydney, while Mr Collisson remained.
Superintendent Doherty urged people with information to come forward voluntarily, or risk police approaching them directly.
“We believe there’s a lot of people that may have knowledge of Mr Collison’s murder and we urge people who have information to come forward and contact police,” he said.
“It's important that they come forward otherwise police will be knocking on their door and making those inquiries in person.”
On Saturday, police arrested and charged Mr Forrest with a string of offences, including murder, acquire firearm subject to prohibition order, acquire ammunition subject to prohibition order, possess shortened firearm (not pistol) without authority, and possess ammunition without holding licence/permit authority.
Mr Forrest was set to appear at Parramatta Local Court on Sunday, however he will now appear at Dubbo Local Court on Monday.
Mr Collison was reported missing on October 15 after he was unable to be located or contacted, before police located the remains on October 26.
Authorities had described him as being of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern appearance, about 180cm – 185cm tall, of solid build, with a shaved head, grey beard and green eyes.
His disappearance was referred to Orana Mid-Western Police Area Command and State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad under Strike Force Utyana.
Investigations under Strike Force Utyana are continuing.
In 2000, Mr Collisson was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of 17-year-old high school student Shahab Kargarian. However Superintendent Doherty said he did not believe the two crimes were linked.