A trial for four men accused of bashing a 23-year-old to within an inch of his life and then abducting him in Sydney’s north-west three years ago has ended in a hung jury.
Jamie Tilley, 36, Jack Davies, 28, William Thomas, 28, and Mitchell Bentley, 27, pleaded not guilty to murdering Brendan Vollmost, whose body has never been found.
After three weeks of deliberations, the jury could not decide whether the men were responsible for Mr Vollmost’s death.
During a five-week trial in the NSW Supreme Court the men claimed that they acted in self-defence when they attacked Mr Vollmost because he pulled a gun on them.
They were also facing charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and detaining for advantage.
Mr Vollmost, himself a drug dealer, was last seen at his home on the night of March 31, 2015, when he was captured by three security cameras.
Vision from the cameras that was played to the jury showed the 23-year-old jumping out of a friend’s car and being chased into his backyard by four men who had followed him home in a white Hyundai station wagon.
Crown prosecutor David Scully said Mr Vollmost was then bashed in a backyard shed, where a “significant amount of his blood” was found by forensic officers.
Just over a minute later, the vision depicts two of the men carrying his limp body back to their car and driving away.
“The four accused were actively looking for Mr Vollmost prior to [March 31], both to recover money and also to obtain the gratification of demonstrating that they were a group to be respected,” Mr Scully said.
“It is the Crown case that Mr Vollmost is dead … one or more of the accused disposed of his body, and they also disposed of the white Hyundai that they took him away in.”
During the trial the men admitted they went to Mr Vollmost’s home that night, but only acted in self-defence.
“It is the defence case is that once Mr Vollmost was in the back shed Mr Vollmost armed himself with a firearm,” Mr Bentley’s barrister James Trevallion told the jury.
“Everything that was done after that in the shed … was done in self-defence and in defence of each other.”
Outside of court, Mr Vollmost’s mother Tammy Slade told reporters said she hoped justice would be served “next time”.
Frustrated and upset, Ms Slade said “it’s been a long nine weeks but there’s nothing I can do about it”.
She said she hoped “someone could come forward” with information on her son’s body’s whereabouts.