10 Oct 2018

Son's concern over missing father revealed at trial

7:47 am on 10 October 2018

The son of Whanganui man Bret Hall, who disappeared in 2011, has told a court of the concern he felt when he visited his father's isolated property and could not find him.

David Lyttle in the Palmerston North High Court.

David Lyttle in the Palmerston North High Court. Photo: RNZ / Anne Marie May

Damian Hall was giving evidence at the trial of David Lyttle, who is before the High Court in Palmerston North accused of murdering Bret Hall in May 2011.

The Crown says Mr Lyttle shot Mr Hall and cut his body into pieces and disposed of it after they argued over money.

Damian Hall and some friends went to hunt at his father's property the day after Bret Hall was last seen alive.

He said his father was not there when they arrived, but oddly, for a security-conscious man, the doors to his caravans and other buildings were open.

He and his friends checked all around the property and he became very concerned when they could not find his father.

"I was starting to think he'd had an accident, the quad [bike] had gone off the edge of a cliff. If the quad did go down there was a good chance we wouldn't be able to see it down there.

"I was getting concerned, very concerned at that point."

Damian Hall said eventually his friend found his father's quad-bike hidden on a track and he presumed his father had gone away to hunt deer and they left because they had to attend a meeting at their work.

The accused, David Lyttle, told the police he had seen Bret Hall the day after Damian Hall visited the farm.

However, four days after Damian Hall had been at the property, the police told him his father was missing.

He said he drove straight to his father's farm, where he met police officers, who began searching the property.

Mr Hall said his father had installed a camera on the trail leading to his property and there were two reasons for that, including keeping an eye out for animals.

" But also, he was not seeing eye-to-eye with the neighbour and dad had wondered if he was snooping around maybe stealing building materials and he wanted to keep an eye on him.

" He also [filmed] people coming up [the farm track] so if anyone came or left they'd be recorded."

Damian Hall said the times on the camera would have been correct because his dad was tech-savvy enough to do that.

Mr Hall also told the Court about a meeting his family had with David Lyttle at his nana's house after his father disappeared.

He said they were questioning him about the house Mr Lyttle was building for his father and about the money situation between David Lyttle and Bret Hall.

" At one stage I asked if he still owed dad any money and he was almost acting surprised, like 'why would I owe your dad any money? If anything he'd owe me a little bit', which blew me away to hear that come out of his mouth."

Damian Hall said he eventually managed to get a roof put on his father's house but during that process he discovered several sheets of plywood had been removed from the property.

The trial is expected to run for about 10 weeks.