Jury fails to deliver verdict in trial of man accused of stabbing squatter to death

The jury in the trial of a man accused of murdering a squatter in a Mandurah shed because he was angry about him stealing his cigarette butts has been discharged after being unable to reach a verdict.

David Morris Best, 58, had been on trial in the Supreme Court for the past week over the fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Roy Erwin in February last year.

Mr Erwin was stabbed in the chest as he slept in the shed on a vacant property that adjointed Mr Best’s home.

It was alleged that sometime before the stabbing, Mr Best had sent a text message to his son, saying he had “carried out his own bit of justice” after catching someone in his backyard again.

A medium shot of Roy sitting in a public train seat in front of a window.
Roy Erwin was 23 and sleeping rough when he died in Mandurah.(Supplied: Facebook)

Prosecutor Paul Usher described the case as one “where anger and being pissed off had taken hold of a person seemingly living a normal life”.

In the text message, Mr Best had said he had called an ambulance, but the court heard one was never called and Mr Erwin’s body was not found until two days later.

Confession recorded in police interview, prosecution says

Mr Usher said in video-recorded interviews with police, Mr Best told them “I did it”.

“I was annoyed he was in my backyard. I went and stabbed him when he was lying on the mattress. I only did it once.”

A long shot of a suburban street with white, unmarked police vans parked outside a house and officers walking around.
Police attended the scene where Mr Erwin’s body was found in Mandurah.(ABC News)

Mr Best pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, with his lawyer, Lisa Roche, saying her client denied intending to kill or cause serious injury to Mr Erwin.

She said it was “nonsense” to suggest that a drunken text message sent by her client could prove that he had the necessary intent.

The jury deliberated for around 13 hours before it was discharged, after telling Justice Michael Corboy it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Mr Best now faces the prospect of a retrial.

He was remanded in custody until his next court appearance later this month, when a date for a new trial may be set.