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Dumped in a wheelie bin, taken to the tip, body of 29-year-old has never been found

Date

Mark Russell

It was in the early hours of New Year's Eve 2011 when Adam Williams, 29, was attacked and killed in room 15 of a St Kilda boarding house, his body wrapped in a tarpaulin and dumped head first in a wheelie bin.

The bin containing Mr Williams' body remained outside the Mary Street boarding house for several days before it was decided it had be moved because of the terrible smell.

The bin was put on the back of a white ute and driven to Mordialloc Creek by three men on or about January 2 last year.

One of the men, John Hornjak, told the Supreme Court how repeated attempts to sink the bin in the creek failed.

Hornjak, who pleaded guilty to assisting an offender charged with manslaughter, for which he received a two-year suspended jail term, said it was decided to put a brick on top of the bin and tie it with rope to the back of an old wooden tug boat.

Hornjak and another man, Michael Dobrovitch, waded into the creek to about waist deep just before dawn and dragged the boat and the bin out into the middle of the creek.

A third man, Michael Barnett, stood on the creek bank.

"Well, we pulled it. Mitch (Dobrovitch) and I took turns in pulling the boat out and it didn't work, it didn't work," Hornjak told the jury during Mr Barnett's trial.

Mr Barnett was found not guilty on Tuesday to assisting an offender.

"Then we abandoned the boat because the bin wouldn't sink so we started to stress out. We untied the bin then we – we were trying to sink it."

Crown prosecutor Andrew Grant asked Hornjak: "How deep was the water at that point, could you tell?"

Hornjak - It was about chest deep. Matt was suggesting a few ways to sink it, to burn holes in it with a jet lighter and cut the corners off with a hacksaw. So we tried that and it still didn't sink.

Mr Grant - Can I ask what is a jet lighter?

Hornjak - It is a cigarette lighter with a high-pressure flame. Matt passed us one.

Mr Grant - He suggested to you that you try burning holes in it with a jet lighter?

Hornjak - Yes.

Mr Grant - What did you do?

Hornjak - I tried to burn it. I burnt some holes in it.

Mr Grant - What was the result of those efforts?

Hornjak - It still wouldn't sink.

Mr Grant - You said he also suggested to use a hacksaw, is that right?

Hornjak - Yes.

Mr Grant - Did you try that?

Hornjak - Matt went to get a hacksaw from the ute. I tried to cut the corners off the bottom.

Mr Grant - Did you succeed?

Hornjak - Yes, I did.

Hornjak told the court the bin still would not sink and the men were worried because the sun was starting to come up.

Mr Grant - What is the next thing that happened?

Hornjak - Because it was already daylight, daylight was coming up, you know, we decided to hide it in the bushes because, you know, there was people, and people started going past in their boats and it's not a good look seeing a bin bobbing up and down in the water. Mitch and I pulled the bin up through the reeds up to the footpath and then all three of us pulled the bin to about 50 metres away into some bushes along where the train line runs. It was very heavy so all of us were needed to pull it.

After hiding the bin in the bushes, the men drove back to St Kilda.

The bin containing Mr Williams' body was eventually found on March 4 by volunteers participating in Clean Up Australia Day. Without realising its contents, the bin was emptied into a garbage truck and the body taken to Clayton tip.

Mr Williams' body has never been found.

Dobrovitch was convicted in April of Mr Williams' manslaughter but details of the case had been suppressed until the end of Mr Barnett's trial on Tuesday.

Describing the events leading up to Mr Williams's death, Hornjak told the court he had bumped into two men, Nathan Rosendale and Andrew Campbell, in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, who had asked him where they could buy some drugs.

Hornjak took the two men back to the boarding house and introduced them to Dobrovitch, who was a drug dealer and heavy ice and speed user.

Rosendale and Campbell bought ice from Dobrovitch and injected it while sitting on the lounge room couch in room 15.

Hornjak said Mr Williams, who had earlier doused a woman in lighter fluid, burst into the room armed with a large steak knife and tried to attack Rosendale and Campbell after words had been exchanged.

Mr Williams was tackled to the ground and Rosendale and Campbell took turns at stomping on his head before Dobrovitch stabbed him twice in the abdomen.

At one stage Campbell said, "Welcome to the Bandidos, c..."

Rosendale and Campbell were later acquitted of murder.

With Mr Williams lying dead on the floor, Hornjak said Rosedale and Campbell told Hornjak and Dobrovitch to get rid of the body.

"Andy and Nathan were directing us, telling us what to do, to prepare to get rid of it," Hornjak said.

"Mitch washed the body in bleach. He put bleach on it and then we proceeded to wrap it up in a tarp. Once we wrapped it up, we tied it up, we tied his legs and hands up."

Mr Grant - Then you went downstairs to get a wheelie bin?

Hornjak - Yes. Mitch and I put him in the bin.

Mr Grant - So you both picked him up and put him in there?

Hornjak - Yes.

Mr Grant - Once you had done that, what was the next thing that happened?

Hornjak - Well, then Mitch left somewhere. He had an argument with Ros [Roslyn Rennie, Dobrovitch's former partner], and then Ros and I carried the bin downstairs through the internal stairs and then we put the bin, um, among all the other bins. We put rubbish on top to conceal the body.

Ms Rennie, the boarding house manager, who pleaded guilty to assisting an offender and received a suspended two-year jail term, described to the court how chaotic the boarding house had been at the time.

She said she heard a "commotion" in room 15 when she was trying to stop other residents trying to get up on the roof, two girls were fighting in another room, and a fairy penguin taken from St Kilda beach was being hidden in yet another.

Ms Rennie saw Mr Williams' legs on the floor but did not go into the lounge room before briefly helping Hornjak take the wheelie bin downstairs until Dobrovitch took over from her.

She has since moved to Toowoomba to try to start a new life and forget the events of that night in room 15.

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