Scriven murder trial begins

The murder trial of Traralgon man William Scriven has begun in the Latrobe Valley Supreme Court with the first witnesses to be called today.

Scriven, 35, is accused of murdering 32 year-old Wayne Glenn Bayley on Saturday, 22 December 2012 by stabbing him three times to the upper body.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Dane QC and defence barrister John Kelly both made opening statements to the court on Friday.

Mr Dane gave an overview of the circumstances leading up to Mr Bayley’s death in Scriven’s front yard at 8 Thexton Street, Traralgon.

He said the accused had conceded he was carrying the knife when the stabbing occurred.

Mr Dane detailed an earlier incident on the afternoon of 21 December involving a verbal altercation between the accused’s partner and the pair’s neighbour from two doors away, Donna Kavanagh, which escalated into a physical altercation between Scriven, Ms Kavanagh’s partner Michael Hill and her 15 year-old son.

The court heard witness descriptions of what occurred next varied, however Scriven and his partner were seen in possession of weapons, she with a knife and he with a metal bar and knife.

Mr Hill had a baseball bat.

Mr Dane said the accused threatened to kill Mr Hill and Ms Kavanagh. A witness called police.

Scriven was arrested, taken to Traralgon Police Station, charged, bailed and released about 10.30pm, the court heard.

The court was told after Scriven arrived home, Mr Hill, Ms Kavanagh, the deceased and others gathered outside his house where another verbal altercation eventually resulted in Mr Bayley and Scriven fighting between two cars, parked in the driveway.

Mr Dane said Scriven was seen with his hands covered by the sleeves of his jacket.

He said the majority of evidence suggested Scriven was on the ground while Mr Bayley was hitting him.

It would show the accused struck Mr Bayley a number of times to the upper body, before running at Mr Hill and then inside.

Mr Dane said it became apparent Mr Bayley had been stabbed, but no witnesses had seen Scriven wielding a knife.

He said the court would hear forensic and fingerprint evidence in relation to a large, single-blade kitchen knife.

Mr Dane said witnesses then saw Scriven open the door of his house and loudly laugh in the direction of Mr Bayley.

The court heard Scriven began to cry after being told of Mr Bayley’s fate and read his rights by police.

When asked whether he had been involved in the stabbing, Scriven told police “yeah, but he came at me”, Mr Dane said.

He said Scriven was taken to hospital with a black eye and two gashes on his right forearm.

Mr Kelly said he would argue Scriven had been “seriously assaulted” in the earlier fight on Thexton Street, where he was “held on the ground and kicked in the head”, and later in his own front yard where he was “struck by Hill and Bayley”.

Mr Kelly said Mr Hill, Ms Kavanagh and “their associates” were “counting down the hours of Scriven’s return” from police custody.

He told the court at least 11 people had gathered outside Scriven’s driveway and Mr Hill had armed himself with an axe.

“The atmosphere was an extremely hostile one and the hostility – I will present to you – was at Mr Scriven,” Mr Kelly said.

He said the defence would contest allegations that Scriven had made threats to kill; that he had produced the knife; had run at Mr Hill after Mr Bayley was stabbed; and had laughed in Mr Bayley’s direction.

Mr Kelly said he would argue Scriven did not intend to cause death or serious injury.

The trial is expected to last for three weeks and will hear from about 40 witnesses.