Woman accused of taking dead man's assets
MACKAY man Christopher Neil Butler, 55, died on September 18, 2011.
Two days prior to his death, paperwork was lodged to have the title of his land, worth $480,000 at McEwens Beach, transferred to a trust controlled by Catherine Faye Campbell.
Two months after Mr Butler's death, Ms Campbell sold a Nissan Patrol that had previously been registered to Mr Butler (right) and the ownership had since been transferred in to her name.
These allegations form the basis of seven charges Ms Campbell has pleaded not guilty to in the Rockhampton District Court this week - one of fraud, one of fraud involving a value over $30,000, three counts of false declarations and two of perjury.
Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips alleged in his opening address yesterday Ms Campbell dishonestly carried out these transactions, along with lying in affidavits and lying while giving evidence in a Supreme Court trial in 2012.
Mr Phillips told the jury the Crown alleges that when Mr Butler signed the paper work for the title of his McEwens Beach property, Mr Butler understood half of the title would be transferred to Ms Campbell for $240,000.
The crown presented each jury member with their own copy of a thick book of documents that would be discussed during the trial, including vehicle registration documents, bank documents and phone records.
"According to Ms Campbell, the cancellation papers (for the Nissan) were signed by Mr Butler, but undated, and were sitting in the glove box," Mr Phillips said. "She admits she put the date on it. She then registered it and sold it."
The first witness to give evidence in the trial was Ross Newton who owns Ross Newton Motors and was the used car dealer who purchased the Nissan Patrol from Ms Campbell on November 29, 2011, for $29,000.
"She said her and her partner use to do a lot of camping," Mr Newton said.
"That they no longer did that, hence they were going to sell the vehicle."
In his opening address yesterday, Mr Phillips accused Ms Campbell of lying when she swore in affidavits and in the civil matter in the Supreme Court about the nature and extent of her relationship with Mr Butler.
He said the law requires a couple be in a de facto relationship for at least two years before one of the partners can have any standing on a deceased partner's estate.
Mr Phillips alleges Ms Campbell was in a defacto relationship with another man for most of 2010; and she claims Mr Butler and herself visited each other between February 2009 and August 2009.
He said during the civil trial, Ms Campbell instructed her solicitor she started the relationship with Mr Butler in December 2010.
Mr Phillips said Ms Campbell moved from the Gold Coast to Mackay and in with Mr Butler about January 2011.
He pointed to a few documents in the book given to jurors including Mr Butler's death certificate which listed his occupation as a machine operator and Ms Campbell as the informant of his death.
"He died at home where Ms Campbell was," Mr Phillips said.
Mr Phillips informed the jury of what some of the evidence witnesses will be giving over the coming days, including a neighbour to the McEwens Beach property claiming Ms Campbell referred to Mr Butler as her uncle during a conversation in June 2011.
He said another witness to give evidence is a woman who claims she was in a long term relationship with Mr Butler, just not living in the same town.
Mr Phillips said Ms Campbell's biological mother will also give evidence about a five-bedroom house rented on the Sunshine Coast in 2011 so Ms Campbell's children could attend school there.
He said two other witnesses will testify that her children use to call Mr Butler 'uncle'.
The trial continues.