A UK man accused of murdering his brother-in-law in his Perth home more than a decade ago has admitted being involved in the fatal altercation after helping his sister leave her violent marriage, but claims he was acting in self-defence.
Anthony Carl Prestidge, who is standing trial in the Supreme Court for wilful murder, claims he feared for his life when his brother-in-law Andy Arthur Ball, 24, came at him with a knife at Mr Ball’s Ellenbrook home on September 10, 2002. The jury was told just days before, Mr Prestidge had helped his sister Angela Ball – Mr Ball’s wife – move out of that same home because of her husband’s physical and emotional abuse.
Opening the State’s case against Mr Prestidge today, prosecutor Linda PetrusaÖ said just hours before Mr Ball was killed at home he was at the Morley Ale House with his alleged killer, with no sign of trouble between the pair.
She told the jury after Mr Ball, who suffered extensive skull fractures and brain injury, was allegedly murdered Mr Prestidge fled the country out of a “consciousness of guilt”, driving Mr Ball’s car to the Perth International Airport and flying to Bali without any luggage and without telling anyone he was leaving.
Ms Petrusa said Mr Ball had also told a neighbour, who was a police officer, and his mother Jean BallÖ that if anything happened to him that Mr Prestidge would be responsible.
Mrs Ball said the last time she spoke with her son he warned her: “If anything happens to me point the finger at Anthony Prestidge. He threatened me last night, (saying) ‘I know what you’ve done to Angie and I’m going to get you’.”
Mrs Ball denied her son threatened to kill or harm Mr Prestidge in her presence.
Ms Petrusa said police found Mr Ball’s body – with the right side of his head “caved in” – under bedding on his kitchen floor two days later after his mother reported him missing. She said forensic evidence would suggest a “large degree of force” was used and that Mr Prestidge struck a second blow as Mr Ball was lying bleeding on the ground.
Defence lawyer Helen Prince said Mr Ball’s death was a tragedy, but that her client, who had been in Perth for only two weeks as a surprise visit to his sister, was acting in self-defence after Mr Ball attacked him, believing Mr Prestidge was coming between him and his wife and children. “Tony will always have to live with that for the rest of his days,” she said.
Ms Prince said Mr Ball was convinced Mr Prestidge and his wife were having an “incestuous affair” and that she would leave the country with their two children. She said Mr Prestidge was trying to do right by his sister, but was relatively diplomatic and brokered telephone contact between the estranged couple.
She argued Mr Prestidge did not flee the country out of consciousness of guilt, saying there was a difference between criminal and moral responsibility and the fact bedding had been placed over Mr Ball’s body indicated some care for the victim.
Jurors heard the domestic violence that marred the Ball’s marriage was not in dispute, with Ms Ball being hospitalised with a broken cheekbone in 2001 and Mr Ball calling the men’s domestic violence helpline after his wife left him.
The trial before Justice Lindy Jenkins, which could run for up to four weeks, continues.