Alleged police killer took officers to site of buried evidence, court told

Murder accused Jason Roberts took police to the site of buried evidence connected to the shooting deaths of two officers more than a decade earlier, a trial has heard.

Prosecutors allege Roberts was with Bandali Debs in Cochranes Road, Moorabbin, after midnight on August 16, 1998, when Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller were shot. Silk died at the scene and Miller died in hospital.

Retired detective Ron Iddles outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday.Credit:Penny Stephens

But Roberts, 41, argues he was not there and has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder. Justice Stephen Kaye has told the jury Debs and Roberts were convicted of the murders in 2002 but the Court of Appeal granted Roberts a retrial.

The Supreme Court heard that in 2013 Roberts told homicide detective Ron Iddles he was with his then-girlfriend Nicole – Bandali Debs’ daughter – at the Debs home in Narre Warren when the shootings happened. Roberts told Iddles that Debs said he alone shot both Silk and Miller.

Police conducted a search near Toorongo Falls.

On Tuesday, Iddles told the trial that after Roberts gave his statement, he took the detective and other police to Toorongo Falls, near Noojee, and indicated the guns and Silk’s police diary were buried there.

A search of the site by police on July 18, 2013, found two plastic containers, a roll of duct tape and a sock, the trial heard, but no guns, ammunition or diary.

Iddles said he visited Debs in prison in August 2013 and told him about Roberts’ statement. Iddles said Debs responded he “[didn’t] know what Jason was on about” and stated the courts had dealt with the matter.

“I asked him if he was alone or not,” Iddles said. “He said, ‘It’s a matter for Jason.’ ”

Iddles said that in 2015 he told Glenn Pullin – a police officer who comforted the dying Miller in Moorabbin – he was concerned about the statement the officer gave to investigators after the shootings.

“He went quiet for about 10 seconds and he said, ‘How do you know I made two statements? I thought there were only members who knew that I had,’ ” Iddles said.

Jason Roberts (right) outside the Supreme Court in March.Credit:Jason South

Iddles said Pullin admitted he made two statements but only the second one was in the brief of evidence that originally helped convict Roberts. According to Iddles, Pullin was told by a senior detective “a second statement was needed to make all things fit”.

Pullin had conceded to Iddles he could not remember whether he and Miller spoke in Moorabbin, the trial heard.

Officers who comforted Miller have told the trial he made references to two offenders. But several of the police witnesses acknowledged in evidence that what they said they heard was not recorded in written notes or statements taken afterwards.

Iddles, who is now retired, was the last of almost 90 witnesses called in a trial that began three months ago.

Sergeant Gary Silk (left) and Senior Constable Rodney Miller.

Prosecutor Ben Ihle, QC, began his closing address by telling the jury they could be confident there were two gunmen in Cochranes Road, and that Roberts – then 17 – was one of them. Ihle said the evidence showed it was likely Roberts shot Silk first, and then Debs shot Miller.

“At the time he was conveying to his co-offender Debs that they were going to shoot their way out of trouble,” Ihle said.

Bandali Debs in 2002.Credit:Simon Schluter

Silk and Miller were on a stakeout in Moorabbin while investigating armed robberies and followed a car from the Silky Emperor Chinese restaurant to Cochranes Road, where they were shot after they pulled over the vehicle.

Roberts has pleaded guilty to 10 charges of armed robbery over hold-ups he did with Debs in 1998 but argues he was not with Debs in Moorabbin.

Ihle said it was “ludicrous” to suggest one gunman could shoot two experienced officers on either side of a car in a dark street.

“It’s fanciful, and we suggest, respectfully, that you will find it fanciful,” he told the jury.

Ihle will continue his closing address on Wednesday. Defence counsel David Hallowes, SC, will follow and Kaye will provide directions before the jury starts deliberating.

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