‘Rip’, ‘cut’ debate as jury given pillowcase at Roger Rogerson, Glen McNamara trial

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Former detective and true-crime author Glen McNamara has denied killing university student Jamie Gao. Photo: James Alcock Roger Rogerson is led away from the Supreme Court on April 27. Photo: Christopher Pearce
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A man on trial for murder was directed to pull a dark brown pillowcase out of a plastic evidence bag for the purpose of inspecting it.

This was the same pillowcase he had held in his hands about two years earlier.

After Glen McNamara had finished examining it, it was passed to members of the jury inside the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday.

The jurors slipped on blue, plastic gloves and waited their turn to hold the pillowcase in their hands.

Some held it up to their eye level; others held it further in front of themselves as they looked to see whether or not a label had been ripped off or cut off with scissors.

What happened to the label was the subject of several questions posed by Crown prosecutor Christopher Maxwell QC on Thursday.

Former detectives Mr McNamara and Roger Rogerson are on trial for the murder of university student Jamie Gao.

They are accused of killing the 20-year-old for the purpose of stealing 2.78 kilograms of the drug ice he had brought to sell them on May 20, 2014.

Police later found the drugs wrapped in two brown pillowcases, secreted under the seat of a white Ford station wagon, parked in Mr McNamara’s garage in Cronulla, in Sydney’s south.

Mr McNamara has previously told a court that he had no idea the drugs were in the car until he discovered them two days after Mr Gao’s death.

He was so concerned the drugs would catch fire that he resolved to “seal” them in pillowslips.

But the labels were of concern to him, because he thought they might “react” with the drugs.

“When I sealed them, I saw that there were these – for the pillowslips – these huge labels. They weren’t cotton, they were like plastic,” he told the jury.

“I was concerned that it could react chemically with the drugs so I got both the labels and ripped them off.”

He did this while he was on his hands and knees on McDonald Street, where the station wagon was parked.

Mr McNamara maintains he left the drugs in the car, and did not take them up to his unit.

But the prosecution has argued he did take the drugs up to his apartment and he used scissors to “cut” the labels off rather than “rip” them off near the car.

“You brought the drugs up into the house and … you repackaged them,” Mr Maxwell said.

“No,” Mr McNamara replied.

While Mr McNamara was holding the pillowcase in his hands, Mr Maxwell asked him whether it appeared the label had been ripped or cut.

“I put it to you that you cut that label off,” he said.

“No,” Mr McNamara replied.

Later Mr Maxwell said: “The reason that the labels were taken off was that you were concerned that it would somehow link you to purchasing them at Kmart ?”

Mr McNamara denied this.

Shortly after the “rip” and “cut” debate, Mr Maxwell finished his cross-examination of Mr McNamara with a series of questions that outlined the Crown’s case.

“In short it is put to you, sir, that you were part of a cold and calculated plan to lure Jamie Gao to unit 803 and that all efforts would be made that he not be seen entering,” Mr Maxwell said.

“No,” Mr McNamara said.

“And that sometime after he entered he would be executed in that unit,” Mr Maxwell said.

“No,” Mr McNamara said.

At the end of the cross examination Glen McNamara’s daughter Lucy gave evidence for the first time.

She told the court her father had said he “had no choice” to go to a pub near Mr Rogerson’s house two days after Jamie Gao was killed.

Ms McNamara said she was told to go to a police station and say where her father had been if he was not home by 10.30 or 11pm.

“I said why are you going if you are worried about not coming home?”

The trial continues before Justice Geoffrey Bellew.

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