RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
These findings have been partially de-identified in relation to details of senior next of kin of the deceased by direction of the Coroner pursuant to S.57(1)(c) of Coroners Act 1995.
I, Rod Chandler, Coroner, have investigated the death of Brendon Roy Marriott
(a) The identity of the deceased is Brendon Roy Marriott (‘Mr Marriott’).
(b) Mr Marriott died on or about 2 December 2010 at 427 East Bagdad Road in Bagdad.
(c) Mr Marriott was born on 16 February 1969 and was aged 41 years.
(d) Mr Marriott died as a result of multiple bullet wounds to the head and/or chest.
(e) The bullet wounds which led to Mr Marriott’s death were inflicted by Noel Alan Percy (‘Mr Percy’) using a .22 calibre rifle. Mr Percy thereby contributed to the cause of Mr Marriott’s death.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:
Since about September 2010 Mr Marriott had been residing with his daughter and her partner in southern Tasmania. He was a mechanic by trade with an interest in high performance motor vehicles. He owned a workshop building at 9 Iden Road in Bagdad where he housed several of his vehicles including a 1967 Chevrolet which he had imported from the United States and which has been described as his “pride and joy.” Mr Marriott was not in employment and was in receipt of a disability allowance from Centrelink. His daughter reports that Mr Percy was her father’s “best mate.”
Mr Marriott’s daughter says that her last contact with her father was at about 6:00 pm on 1 December 2010 when she spoke to him by telephone. She was aware that he had returned to their home that evening at about 10:00 pm but she did not see him then or when she left for work the next morning at about 9:00 am.
In early February 2011 information was received by Tasmania Police that Mr Marriott may have been the victim of an unlawful homicide. A taskforce was established to investigate this information and, if verified, to establish the circumstances surrounding the death.
Investigation by Tasmania Police and its Results
The investigation was thorough and widespread. It led to the creation of a body of evidence including statutory declarations, statements, videoed interviews, photographs and other exhibits. In my consideration of this matter I have had particular regard to the following:
• A statutory declaration made by his daughter;
• A statutory declaration by Ethan Andrew Cunningham-Olding;
• A written statement made by Mr Percy and dated 30 March 2011;
• Transcripts of videoed interviews with Mr Percy;
• Transcripts of videoed interviews with Mrs Shelly Ann Percy;
• Transcripts of videoed interviews with Ms Anna-Lyce Maree Olding;
• Transcripts of videoed interviews with Ethan Cunningham-Olding;
• Transcript of a videoed interview with Ms Chanel Robin Wilkinson;
• A document entitled “Facts Surrounding the Death of Brendon Roy Marriott” compiled by Tasmania Police for the assistance of the Coroner.
• A document entitled “Crown Statement of Facts” prepared in relation to the prosecution of Ms Olding;
• A Tasmania Police Subject Report dated 20 November 2013 provided by Detective Senior Sergeant C J Bessell.
From the above material I have been able to satisfy myself upon the circumstances surrounding Mr Marriott’s apparent death. Details of those circumstances follow.
Mr Percy (born 25/10/1971) was married to Shelly Anne Percy (born 10/5/1972). They resided with their three children at 427 East Bagdad Road in Bagdad. Their residence was nearby to the workshop owned by Mr Marriott.
Sometime in 2008 or 2009 Mr Percy established a personal relationship with Ms Anna-Lyce Olding (born 21/12/1986). She was his mistress. Mrs Percy was aware of Ms Olding. However, it seems that she believed her husband when he told her that Ms Olding was his daughter from a previous relationship and this was the reason for him having time with her.
Mr Percy was an acquaintance of Mr Marriott. For several years they had been involved together in the production and distribution of methamphetamine. Mr Percy was the ‘cook’ and Mr Marriott assisted by sourcing some ingredients and distributing the end product.
Ethan Cunningham-Olding and Ms Olding are cousins. Sometime prior to December 2010 Mr Percy asked Mr Cunningham-Olding if he could acquire a .22 calibre rifle for him. Mr Cunningham-Olding later purchased such a rifle from an unnamed person in Launceston and provided it to Mr Percy along with a quantity of ammunition. Either before or after his acquisition of the rifle Mr Percy said to Mr Cunningham-Olding that he was going to “kill that cunt and that he (Mr Marriott) owed him a lot of money for speed.”
Also prior to December 2010 Mr Percy had a conversation with Ms Olding during which he indicated that Mr Marriott owed him money. According to Ms Olding she was told by Mr Percy that he was considering killing Mr Marriott because “he (Mr Marriott) had ripped him off a fair bit over the past few years.”
On the evening of 2 December 2010 Mr Marriott was present at Mr Percy’s home at 427 East Bagdad Road in Bagdad. An argument developed between the two men. It concerned Mr Marriott’s insistence that Mr Percy continue to produce methamphetamines for him. It also concerned a drug debt due by Mr Marriott to Mr Percy. It ended with Mr Percy shooting Mr Marriott with the .22 calibre rifle he had obtained with the assistance of Mr Cunningham-Olding.
In a statement provided to Tasmania Police and dated 30 March 2011 Mr Percy described the event in these terms:
“I knew Brendon Roy Marriott for some time. He provided materials to me so that I could manufacture the drug ‘Speed.’ I supplied the drugs I made to him.
I wanted to end the arrangement and cease my drug making but he was insistent that I must continue. He was very threatening to me about stopping what I did for him. I knew he was a violent man. He arrived at my property after making threats to chop up me and my family.
When he arrived he was high on speed or something. He was acting like a crazy man. He had an axe with him he had grabbed from my carport.
At the time my 2 god-children aged 2½ and under 1 were at my home. So was my wife and children.
He wouldn’t go away. He continued with his threats and pushed towards going inside my house. I was desperate to stop him. I knew he would do what he threatened. I tried to stop him by waving my gun and threatening to shoot. He kept on.
I fired the gun in his direction hoping I would put him off but I was so frightened that he was hit when I fired it.
All my actions were in self-defence and to stop him harming my family and the other children.
I never intended to kill him or even harm him with the shot I fired.”
In a subsequent interview with Tasmania Police Mr Percy acknowledged that he fired the rifle on three to five occasions and that wounds were inflicted to the front of Mr Marriott’s head and to his chest. He further acknowledged that he checked his throat for a pulse but could not find one. He said that it was obvious that Mr Marriott was deceased.
Mr Percy informed his wife that evening that he had shot Mr Marriott and that he was deceased. He then telephoned Ms Olding and informed her that he had just killed Mr Marriott. According to Ms Olding she was told that Mr Marriott had been shot in the back of the head. Shortly afterwards Mr Percy attended at Ms Olding’s residence at 26 Warruga Street in Bridgewater. He told her again that he had shot and killed Mr Marriott. Ethan Cunningham-Olding was present at this time and heard this conversation. Mr Percy then drove Ms Olding to his home and showed her a quantity of timber piled in a trench at the rear of the residence. He told Ms Olding “that (is) where he is.”
Mr Percy did not report the death of Mr Marriott to Tasmania Police. He said that he did not do so because, “even though it’s self-defence I’m still gonna go to jail.” Over several days following 2 December 2010 Mr Percy set about cremating Mr Marriott’s body using oil, timber and tyres as fuel. Afterwards Mr Percy gathered the burnt remains in a blue bucket which he delivered to Ms Olding’s residence at Bridgewater. He instructed Ms Olding to place the bucket in her garage and to keep her child and dog away from it.
On 6 March 2011 Mr Percy took a flight to Queensland. Two days later police officers attended at his Bagdad residence to conduct a search as part of its taskforce’s investigation concerning Mr Marriott. Mrs Percy telephoned her husband to advise of the ongoing search. Mr Percy then telephoned Ms Olding and directed her to dispose of a number of items connected to Mr Marriott. As to the blue bucket he told her to “take it down and tip it in the water.” Ms Olding then drove to a jetty off Riverside Road at Bridgewater where she tipped the contents of the bucket into the Derwent River. She then placed the bucket in the boot of her Hyundai Excel sedan. Three days later police intercepted that vehicle on Eddington Street in Bridgewater. The blue bucket was located and seized. Forensic testing confirmed that the contents included bone fragments. Fingerprints belonging to Mr Percy were found on the inside and outside of the bucket.
On 28 March 2011 officers of Tasmania Police conducted a search of the Percy residence at Bagdad. Goods seized included two firearms, two firearm silencers and Mr Marriott’s Chevrolet and Honda vehicles. Also a spent .22 calibre shell case was located in a trench at the rear of the residence. It was later confirmed that its shell was fired from one of the firearms located at the residence and identified by Mr Percy as the weapon he used to shoot Mr Marriott. This was the same weapon which had been supplied to Mr Percy by Mr Cunningham-Olding.
In the course of her interview by police Mrs Percy advised that her husband had told her that he had dumped some of Mr Marriott’s remains alongside the Midlands Highway, north of Bagdad. She later attended and identified the precise location to police. Their search of the area revealed a quantity of bone fragments upon which an anthropologist has reported in these terms; “Although it is not possible to confirm these bone fragments as being definitely human the thickness and curved nature of two of the bone fragments is consistent with a human skull in the region of the frontal bone and the third fragment is consistent with the malar region of the cheek bone.”
Also on 28 March Mr Percy was taken into police custody and interviewed. He initially denied any wrongdoing involving Mr Marriott and suggested that he was resident in Queensland. However, two days later, after receiving legal advice, he provided police with the written statement which I have set out above.
The police investigation has established that Mr Marriott’s Centrelink payments were being deposited into his account at My State Credit Union. These deposits continued to be made after December 2010. The investigation has also established that Mr Percy, after December 2010, represented to My State staff that he was Mr Marriott and thereby gained access to the account. During February and March 2011 Mr Percy withdrew a total of $5326.38 from the account in 8 separate transactions. Also after December 2010 Mr Percy had access to Mr Marriott’s Bagdad workshop. He removed Mr Marriott’s Jayco caravan and re-located it to a property at Dromedary. He also took possession of the vintage Chevrolet and a Honda Civic sedan. He represented to others that the Chevrolet was his and that he intended to sell it in Sydney and to use the funds to buy himself a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Despite their enquiries police have not been able to uncover any evidence consistent with Mr Marriott being alive after 2 December 2010. An examination of phone records show that he made hundreds of calls per month on his mobile phone but since 2 December 2010 the phone has been unused.
Events Subsequent to the Police Investigation
On 28 March 2011 Mr Percy was arrested and charged with Mr Marriott’s murder. On the same day both Mrs Percy and Ms Olding were each charged with one count of perverting justice and a second count of failing to report the killing of a person, namely Mr Marriott. Mrs Percy was also charged with one count of manufacturing a controlled drug for sale whilst Ms Olding was also charged with one count of selling a controlled drug.
After his arrest Mr Percy was kept in custody at the Risdon Prison Complex pending the hearing of the charge against him. On Sunday 6 May 2012 he was found deceased in his cell. A coronial investigation of the death is yet to be concluded. However, the evidence to this point suggests that Mr Percy took his own life by hanging himself.
On 21 December 2012 Ms Olding appeared in the Supreme Court of Tasmania and pleaded guilty to the charges laid against her. She was convicted and sentenced to a total of 30 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 15 months.
On 6 June 2013 Mrs Percy was convicted after trial of all charges. She was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 7 ½ months.
Findings, Comments and Recommendations:
The circumstances of this matter give rise to a number of issues which require my consideration. The first is to determine whether Mr Marriott is in fact deceased. A finding that he is deceased will compel me to make findings, if possible, upon when, where and how death occurred, the cause of death and the identity of any person who contributed to the death. I will deal with each of these matters in turn.
A finding that Mr Marriott is deceased is complicated by the absence of a body. However, there is a vast quantity of evidence consistent with Mr Marriott’s demise. Foremost is the direct evidence of Mr Percy where he has admitted to shooting Mr Marriott in the chest and head and then disposing of the body by fire. Bone fragments found in a blue bucket and beside the Midlands Highway corroborate Mr Percy’s account of the body’s disposal although it was not possible to positively identify those fragments as belonging to Mr Marriott. Relevant is the failure of police, despite their extensive investigation, to uncover any evidence of Mr Marriott being alive beyond 2 December 2010. His daughter, has not had any contact with Mr Marriott since that date and the evidence indicates that he has not accessed his credit union account or used his mobile phone since the same date. Too, it is evident that he has abandoned his property at Bagdad including his vintage Chevrolet, known to be his “pride and joy.” All of this leads me to be most comfortably satisfied that Mr Marriott is deceased and I find accordingly.
I am also satisfied, based upon the admissions of Mr Percy that Mr Marriott died on 2 December 2010 at Mr Percy’s place of residence being 427 East Bagdad Road in Bagdad. Too, I find that Mr Marriott died from multiple bullet wounds to the chest and/or head. Those bullet wounds were inflicted by Mr Percy using a .22 calibre rifle. Mr Percy’s action in firing multiple bullets into Mr Marriott’s person played a direct role in bringing about his death and this mandates, in my opinion, a finding that Mr Percy contributed to the cause of death.
I have noted above that police charged Mr Percy with Mr Marriott’s murder. However, that charge was not heard by the Criminal Court before Mr Percy’s own demise. In the result there has not been an assessment of Mr Percy’s criminal liability for Mr Marriott’s death. In particular there has not been a determination upon Mr Percy’s contention that he acted in self-defence. Whether Mr Percy’s actions on 2 December 2010 were unlawful and did constitute a crime are matters which I am not permitted to make a finding upon or indeed make comment. See s28(4) of the Coroners Act 1995. Rather my obligation, which I have attempted to fulfil, is to set out the relevant facts so that they can speak for themselves. It is a matter then for the reader to make up his or her own mind upon the lawfulness of Mr Percy’s conduct. See Keown v Khan  1 VR 69 at 76-77.
I have decided not to hold a public inquest into this death because my investigation has sufficiently disclosed the deceased’s identity, the time, place, relevant circumstances concerning how the death occurred, and the particulars needed to register the death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999. I do not consider that the holding of a public inquest is likely to elicit any important additional information further to that disclosed by the investigation conducted by me. The circumstances of Mr Marriott’s death do not require me to make any further comment or any recommendation.
I conclude this matter by conveying my sincere condolences to Mr Marriott’s family.
DATED: 22 January 2014 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania.