'Dying declaration': man set alight identified his killer, court told
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'Dying declaration': man set alight identified his killer, court told

Screaming in pain by the side of the road, a severely burnt Wade Still made a "dying declaration" that the man who "poured petrol" on him was David McCauley, detectives allege.

Mr Still, 23, was found by a passing taxi driver by the side of Oakdale Road at Whitebridge, south of Newcastle, in the early hours of August 20.

Police found Wade Still (inset) badly burnt on the side of a road in Whitebridge, Lake Macquarie, on August 20.

Police found Wade Still (inset) badly burnt on the side of a road in Whitebridge, Lake Macquarie, on August 20. Credit:Newcastle Herald

He repeatedly told a Fire & Rescue NSW officer that "David McCauley did it", police have alleged in documents submitted to a court.

David John McCauley, 35, has been charged with Mr Still's murder. The two men, described by police as "low-level career criminals", lived in the same Belmont unit complex and had known each other for years, including periods during which they had been "in conflict".

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Mr McCauley did not appear in Toronto Local Court on Tuesday nor apply for bail.

The matter was adjourned to Newcastle Local Court on November 15, the same date as co-accused Troy McCosker, 49, is due to appear.

David McCauley has been charged with murder over the death of Wade Still.

David McCauley has been charged with murder over the death of Wade Still.

Details of the "dying declaration" were set out in a police statement handed to magistrate Robert Stone during a bail application for Mr McCosker last week.

A taxi driver told police he was driving along Oakdale Road about 1am on August 20 when he saw a small fire in grass by the side of the road at the entrance to a quarry.

He did a U-turn and called triple zero before hearing screaming and seeing Mr Still "sitting, huddled on the ground" near the fire.

The taxi driver called triple zero again to update them and asked Mr Still, "Are you hurt?"

Mr Still replied: "I'm dying. I'm dying."

The taxi driver tried to help Mr Still speak to the triple zero operator but he continued to scream, "I'm dying", the police statement said.

A Fire & Rescue NSW officer arrived a short time later and asked Mr Still his name and what happened.

"David McCauley poured petrol on me," Mr Still is alleged to have replied.

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"Are you and Dave mates?" the firefighter asked.

"We were," Mr Still replied, according to the police statement.

The firefighter asked if he and "Dave" were out lighting fires, to which Mr Still replied, "No."

Mr Still then continued to repeat his accused murder's name and said "David McCauley did it", according to the police statement.

Police claim that, due to the fact Mr Still believed he was about to die from his injuries, these statements to witnesses can be classified as a "dying declaration", one of the exceptions to the ban of hearsay evidence being used in criminal proceedings.

About 50 minutes before the taxi driver stopped to assist Mr Still, police say a car containing four people drove past the quarry and saw a man run out waving his arms in an attempt to get them to stop. The man was "covered in mud, with clothes hanging off him". Police allege the man was Mr Still.

Police at the scene in Whitebridge where Wade Still's body was found.

Police at the scene in Whitebridge where Wade Still's body was found. Credit:Fairfax Media

In a police interview after his arrest on Tuesday, Mr McCauley denied any involvement in Mr Still's death.

He told detectives he picked up Mr Still on his motorbike in the suburb of Jewells between 11.30pm and 11.45pm on the night of his death.

He said Mr Still was carrying a five-litre jerry can full of fuel for Mr McCauley's motorbike. He said they pulled over near the quarry on Oakdale Drive because Mr Still was cold and then Mr Still said he was going to wait in that area for a friend.

Mr McCauley said he left Mr Still there and drove to a house at Dudley and then was picked up by Mr McCosker. He said Mr McCosker's car broke down at Redhead and he was picked up by a woman and driven to his home at Belmont.

Mr McCosker, represented by barrister Terry Healey and solicitor Cameron Duncan, was unsuccessful in his bid for bail on Thursday. Mr Stone said the police statement indicated Mr McCosker was in a vehicle at the scene when Mr Still was allegedly set alight by Mr McCauley.

Mr Healey had submitted that Mr McCosker was no more than a taxi driver for Mr McCauley and did not know Mr Still was even at the scene.

The court had heard Mr McCosker and Mr Still were in an "ongoing, violent feud" in the lead-up to his death.

Newcastle Herald