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Trio accused of murder plot to be tried together

Three young men accused of plotting to kill a 17-year-old youth with a baseball bat, preparing a car to dispose of his body and luring him to bushland in Canberra's south, will stand trial together after a successful appeal by prosecutors.

The trio are accused of agreeing to murder the teenager in November 2008.

They allegedly planned for the killing, preparing a car to transport the body and obtaining shovels and a mattock for the burial.

The trio are accused of driving to a suburb in Tuggeranong before one of the men called the alleged victim and lured him from his home.

He was taken to an isolated location in bushland, according to the Crown.

The two others emerged from hiding spots, one allegedly brandishing a baseball bat.

The trio allegedly ran at the teenager, chasing him through the bush in the dark.

One gave up the chase but the other two kept chasing him and one told the teenager he was going to kill him.

The 17-year-old was allegedly hit with a baseball bat and put in a stranglehold, losing consciousness. But he regained consciousness, ran to a nearby house and called the police, the Crown says.

The trio were set to face trial together, until one of the men applied to be tried separately from his co-accused.

That was agreed to by Chief Justice Terence Higgins, who ordered all three be tried separately, citing concerns that a joint trial could unfairly prejudice the defendants.

Defence lawyers also argued the case against one of the men was different to those of his two co-accused.

But the Crown disputed the decision in the Court of Appeal, which delivered its judgment on Wednesday.

Justice Richard Refshauge, Justice John Burns and Justice Hilary Penfold upheld the appeal and ruled that the order to sever the indictment be set aside.

They found ''no proper basis'' for the three to be tried separately.

''The public interest is best served by a joint trial so as to avoid inconsistent verdicts, reduce unnecessary expense and inconvenience to the prosecution and, importantly, relieve the complainant of the obligation of testifying in three trials,'' they wrote.

''There is also a real public interest in vindicating the principle that persons jointly charged with criminal offending should be tried jointly, unless some reason is shown why that principle should be departed from.''

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