Jury to return on Friday in NSW Supreme Court trial of Troy Jason Ruttley accused of murdering Johann Morgan | Update

Murder trial: Family and friends of Johann Morgan outside of Tamworth court during the seven-day NSW Supreme Court trial. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Murder trial: Family and friends of Johann Morgan outside of Tamworth court during the seven-day NSW Supreme Court trial. Photo: Gareth Gardner

WAITING GAME

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A SUPREME court jury is locked in deliberations on whether or not Troy Ruttley killed Johann Morgan and disposed of her body.

After more than two hours of deliberations on Thursday, the jury of six men and six women sent a note shortly before 4pm asking to be excused early for the day because they “were exhausted”.

Justice Anthony Payne also told the jurors after a second note about forensic evidence photos that they would need to base their verdict on the evidence "within the material that has been tendered".

The jury retired to consider their verdict shortly before lunch on Thursday after hearing seven days of evidence, as dozens of Ms Morgan’s family, including her children, watched on.

EARLIER

Allegedly murdered: Johann Morgan. Photo: Supplied

Allegedly murdered: Johann Morgan. Photo: Supplied

A JURY has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of Troy Jason Ruttley who is accused of murdering Tamworth mother-of-eight Johann Morgan.

Justice Anthony Payne finished his summing up and directions to the jury of six men and six women in the NSW Supreme Court in Tamworth on Thursday, shortly before lunch, as more than a dozen family members of Ms Morgan, including her children, watched on.

Ruttley has been on trial for the murder of Ms Morgan who has not been seen since August 9, 2015, in Tamworth.

Justice Payne told the jury the "critical issue in this case" was that the Crown "must prove that in actual fact Johann Morgan is dead".

He said the "Crown's case quite clearly is that the accused's intention was to inflict really serious bodily injury on Johann Morgan".

More than 40 witnesses were called by the Crown in the seven-day trial including Ms Morgan's children, brothers and sisters, Ruttley's children, extended family members as well as the last people who the Crown allege saw Ms Morgan alive on August 9, 2015.

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Justice Payne said any verdict needed to be based on "evidence free of any emotion", and asked the jury to put aside any "hostility" or "impartiality" or "sympathy" they had for either side, and "determine the case solely based on the evidence".

Defence barrister Anita Betts only called one witness in her case, the accused, Ruttley, who gave evidence about his movements on the days in question but denied killing or hurting Ms Morgan in her Cole Rd home.

The Crown alleges Ruttley killed her and then dragged her body outside of the home and used his Mitsubishi Magna to dispose of the body which has never been found.

Ruttley admits that he torched the car on August 10 at a quarry on the Oxley Highway, 17km outside of Tamworth.

He says he burnt the car because it was playing up, he wouldn't have received any money from the wreckers for it and none of the family wanted it.

The Crown claims Ruttley torched the car to destroy evidence that linked him to the disappearance and murder of his on-off again partner.

Justice Payne said for the charge of murder to be proven, the jury need to be satisfied that the "death of Johann Morgan was caused by the deliberate act of the accused".

He said the jury needed to be satisfied the act caused by the accused was with "the intention to kill Johann Morgan or the intention to inflict grievous bodily harm".

Murder trial: Family and friends outside of Tamworth court, including Ralph Murray, pictured back in a hat, who was one of the last people who allegedly saw Johann Morgan, inset, alive in 2015. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Murder trial: Family and friends outside of Tamworth court, including Ralph Murray, pictured back in a hat, who was one of the last people who allegedly saw Johann Morgan, inset, alive in 2015. Photo: Gareth Gardner

The court was told grievous bodily harm was a legal term for really serious bodily injury but "the injury doesn't have to be permanent or even life-threatening".

Justice Payne said the defence points out there were no traces of Johann Morgan's body or any foreign matter found inside the Mitsubishi Magna, and also despite very extensive searches, Johann Morgan's body has not been found.

He said the defence "says they accept the accused quarreled with Johan Morgan" but that the jury would conclude that "when he left her on the night of 9 August, 2015, Johann Morgan was alive".

He said part of the defence case pointed that Johann Morgan could be staying with family or friends somewhere in Australia because members of her family didn't know some of the details about her personal life.

Johann Morgan was reported missing to Tamworth police by her sister Stephanie Morgan on August 16, 2015.

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