Michael James Sculac has pleaded not guilty to torture.
Michael James Sculac has pleaded not guilty to torture.

‘He was tripping’: Torture accused’s police interview

Defence barrister Simon Lewis has questioned why police didn't interview the man an alleged torture victim says he called in a bid to get help.

Phone records show Jonah Betts, 19, spent three minutes on the phone to a man known as Andy during a three-day period in which he says he was tortured by Michael James Sculac.

A jury was sent out on Tuesday evening to deliberate whether or not Mr Sculac, 50, was guilty after two police officers took the stand at Maroochydore District Court.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook alleged Mr Sculac beat Mr Betts and urinated on him while holding him captive at a Noosa bush camp between March 6 and March 10, 2019.

His case relied on an alleged motive of Mr Sculac believing Mr Betts had stolen property from his camp site.

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Mr Cook said this was evidenced by phone records which detailed a co-accused texting Mr Sculac "Keep him there" and "Don't tell him, he will try to run".

Senior Constable Tara Nolan told the court on Tuesday that police had actually seized alleged stolen property from the camp site just hours before Mr Betts claimed the torture began.

Mr Lewis, acting for Mr Sculac, said the phone records could also discredit the crown's case particularly where Andy sent a text to Mr Betts which read "Total bull s--- Jonah. Don't come to my property or I'll smash you".

The message came after a three-minute phone call between the pair.

"That is, you might think, an odd way for (Andy) to respond," Mr Lewis said.

"But we don't know what that's all about because the police didn't even speak to this man."

'Dehumanised': Alleged torture victim tells his story

Noosa Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Senior Constable Mal Teissl confirmed to the court that police had not interviewed Andy.

"We did actually make some effort to speak to (Andy) but unfortunately he was not spoken to," Det Sen Const. Teissl said.

He had arrested Mr Sculac and two others on March 10 after visiting Mr Betts at Noosa Hospital and trekking through dense bushland to the camp site.

Mr Sculac did not take the stand during the two-day trial, however, a police interview played to the court recorded him describing embarrassment about a consensual sexual relationship with Mr Betts.

"Mate, he was tripping," Mr Sculac told Det Sen Const. Teissl in the interview.

"We've been seeing each other and we've been having a fair bit of fun.

"Me and him tie each other up and stuff. We get into a bit of kinky stuff and all that."

Mr Cook showed a photo to the jury of an injury on Mr Betts' thigh which was allegedly caused by Mr Sculac standing on him.

"Just because you've done drugs or you are homeless, doesn't mean you deserve to be treated like Jonah described," Mr Cook said.

In closing, Mr Lewis reminded the jury of Mr Betts' history of drug-induced hallucinations.

"When assessing Jonah and what you know about him and the effect that methamphetamine and other substances have on him … can you really believe him beyond a reasonable doubt?"

Mr Sculac's bail was enlarged as court was adjourned on Tuesday night.

The jury will continue deliberating on Wednesday.


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