Secret police recordings in which a man claims to have killed Paddy Moriarty with a hammer have been heard at an inquest into the Northern Territory man’s disappearance.
Moriarty, 70, and his dog went missing from the town of Larrimah, 430km south of Darwin, on 16 December 2017, with police suspecting foul play.
On Wednesday, the inquest heard recordings allegedly from the Larrimah home of Owen Laurie. On one recording, a voice says: “Fucking killed Paddy, hit him on the head. Smacked him on the fucking nostrils with my claw hammer,” and “I killerated old Paddy … I struck him on the fucking head and killerated the bastard … basherated him.”
Laurie, who was 70 at the time Moriarty vanished, had worked as a caretaker and gardener for Fran Hodgetts and lived on her property where she ran a teahouse.
Hodgetts, who appeared at Wednesday’s inquest via video from Melbourne, had a long-running feud with the missing man and alleged he repeatedly poisoned her plants.
She said when she had warned Laurie about the vandalism on her property, he told her that “if anyone touches my garden, it will be the first murder in Larrimah”.
Police installed recording devices in Laurie’s home on 29 December 2017 – less than two weeks after Irish-born Moriarty and his dog disappeared.
In the eight recordings played to the court on Wednesday, a man is heard singing, chatting to a dog, muttering, yodelling and strumming a guitar.
After hearing the first recording – on which the voice says “Yeah, fucking idiots tell them what I’ve done, hit with a fucking hammer” – Laurie told the inquest: “I don’t think that’s me.”
He then exercised his right against self-incrimination and remained silent after the playing of the subsequent seven recordings.
The recordings also included the man’s voice stating: “He’s a good bloke. He’s terrible. No wonder I fucking belted him” and “I had a fight in the middle of the night”. A voice was heard saying: “I kill pup dogs” and “Well they didn’t fucking find the hammer. Well they can’t get me for anything.”
Laurie denied any knowledge of what happened to Moriarty as did his former employer Hodgetts.
Hodgetts was asked to comment on allegations made earlier in the inquest by Pine Creek man Wayne Ledwidge.
Ledwidge claimed that in late 2017 he overheard a conversation between his friend Brian Roberts, now deceased, and Hodgetts, in which Hodgetts offered him $10,000 to “get rid” of Moriarty. Hodgetts on Wednesday denied the encounter took place.
“I never ever ever ever paid anyone to bump Paddy off,” she said. “I swear on my mother and father’s grave, I don’t know him and I never said that.”
Ledwidge also gave evidence that he believed Roberts may have been involved in the 2001 death of Peter Falconio, for which Bradley John Murdoch was convicted in 2005, but the court heard there was nothing to support this.
The inquest first opened in 2018, six months after Moriarty’s disappearance.
The Northern Territory coroner, Greg Cavanagh, is due to hand down his findings on Thursday.