THE man accused of murdering Tamworth mother Johann Morgan has denied he killed her in her own house and dragged and disposed of her body, but admits he initially lied to police "to shut them up”.
The defence closed its case in the murder trial of Troy Jason Ruttley on Tuesday, only calling the accused to give evidence.
Under cross-examination on the witness stand in the NSW Supreme Court in Tamworth, Ruttley admitted he was “getting confused” and wasn’t sure about some things, including when he got home on August 8 and 9.
“You're making this up as you go along,” Crown prosecutor Bryan Rowe submitted.
"I'm not sure ... I can't be positive about anything," Ruttley replied.
I'm not sure ... I can't be positive about anything.Troy Jason Ruttley
He said he couldn’t recall how much he had to drink on the night of August 8 – the night before the Crown alleges he murdered Ms Morgan.
"That was 17 months ago, who remembers that?" Ruttley said.
Mr Rowe submitted Ruttley was the key suspect in the missing person investigation which had “been all over the media” and “you can't remember the vital movements on these two days". Ruttley said he was getting “confused”.
When asked about what car he went to buy alcohol in and how the Mitsubishi got back to his house, Ruttley said he couldn’t remember.
“You can't remember because you're making things up,” Mr Rowe asked.
"You're twisting things around,” Ruttley said.
Dozens of family and friends of both Ruttley and Ms Morgan were in court for his evidence where the now 47-year-old denied pushing her into a wall in the Cole Rd house, killing her and then dragging her body out through the backyard where police allege they uncovered a trail of blood.
"I didn’t do it," Ruttley told the jury, adding "I never harmed a hair on her head ... you can ask any of her family over there".
Ruttley admitted that he lied to police but denied he did it “to put them off the scent”, rather he said he “wasn’t sure at the time”.
"I just told them something to shut them up,” Ruttley said.
I just told them something to shut them up.Troy Jason Ruttley
The jury heard he went to Orange and Sydney in the days following her disappearance “at the time when everyone was out looking for her” but admitted he didn’t search for her.
"I didn't worry about it … I just figured she would come home,” he said, denying that he knew she was already dead.
Her body has never been found.
Ruttley said members of his family were being teased on August 10 – a day after the alleged murder, and before she was reported missing, so he told his daughter "you fellas have got to go ... we made up our minds to move to Dubbo".
He said he then took his Mitsubishi Magna stationwagon to the quarry 17km out of Tamworth and burnt it, lighting the seat.
Ruttley said “none of the family members wanted it .... I’d rather see it burnt", adding that he wouldn’t have got any money from the wreckers anyway, and he had no money to fix it.
But he went back later to check it out because "everyone was talking about it”, and took the copper out of it.
"It was the talk of town," Ruttley said, before he was asked to narrow down exactly who was talking about it.
“[It’s] Coledale .... everyone knows everyone's business.”
Mr Rowe said Ruttley deliberately torched the car and his possessions in it, including some of the clothing they allege he was wearing when he murdered Ms Morgan on or about August 9.
"I had clothes in it … I always had a change of clothes in it," Ruttley told the jury.
I had clothes in it … I always had a change of clothes in it.Troy Jason Ruttley
When questioned about the phone recording of the pair arguing on the night of the alleged murder, Ruttley said "Johann recorded it, she had my phone”.
"She recorded it, I didn't have my phone,” he said.
The court heard that Ruttley’s family, including some of his children, did not approve of his relationship with Ms Morgan.
“They encouraged you to get rid of her, correct?” Mr Rowe asked.
“Yes,” Ruttley replied.
He said Ms Morgan would get a few beers in her and go off, and “I’d have my days” and get sick of it.
“Her going off is a feature of your relationship, is that what you're telling this jury?” Mr Rowe asked.
“Yes,” Ruttley replied.
The closing addresses will begin on Wednesday.