Murder-accused 'lost it' during street attack on Nelson man, witness says

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from his home.

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from his home.

A young man allegedly told his friends they should "roll" two strangers right before he choked Nelson man Philip Quayle to death in a Cairns street.

Jake Desmond Livingstone, 22, pleaded not guilty in the Cairns Supreme Court this week to murdering 27-year-old Quayle, The Cairns Post reported.

Quayle's body was found on Spence St, near his home, in the early hours of February 26, 2015.

Quayle grew up in Nelson and attended Nelson College. He had been living in Cairns, Queensland, for several years.

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Witness Samantha Sky French said she was walking with Livingstone and another man when she saw two people walking towards them about 2.30am, The Cairns Post reported.

"When we first noticed them Jake said: 'Let's roll them'," she said.

"I didn't think it was serious."

French said she thought Livingstone was joking.

She told the court that Livingstone stepped in front of Quayle and said something causing him to look up. The woman he was with had run ahead.

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"As soon as the man looked up, that is when Jake has punched him in the face," she said.

She said Livingstone punched Quayle in the face twice more before he began to defend himself.

The pair looked to be in a grapple stance and punching each other, she said.

"The more the male seemed to defend himself the more aggressive Jake seemed to get," French said.

She said both of the men ended up on the ground, which was when Livingstone put Quayle in a chokehold. 

"[When] Jake jumped onto his back it just seemed like he lost it," she said, adding that Livingstone was repeatedly screaming, "die".

After about a minute French said Quayle's "whole body just seemed to go limp".

The three fled the scene leaving Quayle on the footpath.

They drove past the scene about 4am and saw the police and the body covered by a white sheet, she said.

Livingstone and the other man then burnt their shirts in a paddock. Livingstone also dumped his shorts among mangroves.

French has an indemnity agreement saving her from prosecution against any evidence she gave.

The court heard that medical reports revealed that Quayle, who had been a chef at award-winning seafood restaurant, Tha Fish, had had an enlarged heart and a blocked artery.

However, the Crown's case was that Livingstone caused Quayle's death.

It wasn't in dispute that Livingstone attacked Quayle, but Crown prosecutor Michael Cowen said the jury would have to decide what level of violence Livingstone used.

"All that Mr Quayle did was walk along the city street on his way home," Cowen said.

The trial continues.

 - Stuff

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