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Factory where ex elite police officer died was a drug base, court told

The Melbourne factory where a former elite policeman was allegedly murdered was also the base for an ice dealer, a court has been told.

David Grierson, 46, faced a preliminary hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday charged with murdering Dean McGrath at a Braeside factory last year.

Murder charges were dropped against a second man, Craig Hunter Marshall, 47, after he pleaded guilty to helping dispose of Mr McGrath’s body and getting rid of the gun used in the offence.

Mr McGrath left the force in 2010 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

What Mr McGrath was doing at the factory that day in May last year is unclear. The court heard Mr Grierson told an associate the ex-cop was doing a “run-through” and he had acted in self-defence.

But Mr McGrath's younger brother Mark, 28, told police his brother had gone into “police mode” when he heard a friend had been buying ice from the factory, the court was told.

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“[Dean] started asking lots of questions, as you would expect from an ex-policeman. He was asking for a lot of detail about the location of the factory and what it was like inside,” he said.

The younger McGrath told police he went searching for his brother after his brother’s wife had told him Dean hadn’t come home. Mark said by chance he found the car his brother had been driving parked at the factory after he drove past.

The keys were still in the ignition, and  his brother’s wallet and phone were in the car, he told police.

For two days, Mark McGrath, his parents and his other brother and sister all made desperate attempts to enter the premises, including banging on the doors and trying to stop a car from driving out. They notified police, but Mr McGrath said officers would not force entry at that stage.

The body of the 41-year-old former special operations group officer was found by police inside the factory the next day.

“His death has left a huge hole in our family,” Mr McGrath told police.

“He was the eldest of six children and was much loved by everyone. He was a real leader of the family and held everyone together. His death has left behind a wife and two young children that all meant the world to him.”

The hearing before magistrate Denise Livingstone continues.

An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Mr McGrath sourced small quantities of the drug ice from Mr Grierson at the Braeside factory. It was in fact a friend of Mr McGrath who bought the ice, not the former police officer. The Age apologises for the error, which was made in the production process.