NT plumber finds headless shooting victim

By Aaron Bunch
Updated September 28 2021 - 11:40am, first published 11:37am
A man has told the trial about finding security guard Rob Courtney's body at Darwin Recycling.

Two mates made a gruesome discovery after hearing a loud bang in the car park at Darwin's Buff Club, dropping their beers and running outside to investigate.

"I noticed a pair of feet poking out of the side of the bollard," plumber Malcolm Smith said as he recounted the events on June 4, 2019.



That's the day Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann, 47, allegedly murdered four people in less than an hour during a drug-fuelled rampage across the city.

"I approached the body. He had his arms up above his chest ... and he was twitching slightly," the plumber told Hoffmann's trial in the Northern Territory Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"His head was missing from just above his eyebrows."

The dead man was Michael Sisois, 57.

He was Hoffmann's third victim and died about 5.58pm, prosecutor Lloyd Babb SC says.

Three other men were shot and killed on June 4, including Hassan Baydoun, 33, at the Palms Motel about 5.30pm and Nigel Hellings, 75, who died at an apartment complex about 5.54pm.

Rob Courtney, 52, also died about 6.05pm after he was stabbed more than 30 times and shot.

"I saw an empty cartridge case from a shotgun. I turned to Michael and I said, 'call the cops, I think it was a gunshot'," Mr Smith said.

Laurence Gibson was also having an after-work drink at the Buff Club when Mr Sisois was shot.

He told the court he spotted Hoffmann, who he had known for several years, driving from the club in a white ute after the incident.

Mr Gibson is the first witness to identify the shooter as Hoffmann.

Constable Kevin Rankine was one of the first police officers to respond to triple-zero calls reporting shots had been fired at the Palms Motel about 5.45pm.

"I assumed people were just letting off fireworks. That was our attitude as we left," he said.

The mood changed after arriving at the motel when Const Rankine and his partner were told a woman had been shot in the leg and the gunman was on the move towards a nearby apartment complex.

The pair took off in the same direction and soon heard gunshots for themselves as they arrived on Garden Hills Crescent near the apartments.

Two or three more bangs rang out.

"We heard the additional shots and thought 'f*** let's go'," he said.



The duo walked into the unit block to investigate but the gunman had already left.

Const Rankine said he had a clear view to the Buff Club from the rear of the property, several hundred metres away.

"I thought I saw a white dual cab ute approaching Buff Club," he said.

"I couldn't be certain but in hindsight, I realise it was him."

The pair then heard a single gunshot ring out.

Minutes later, another police unit reported a shot had been fired at the club.



"As we approached (the club) I told (my partner) to keep driving because the vehicle could take more of the shot than we could," Const Rankine said.

"I just wanted to get in there quickly and hopefully catch him unaware before he hurt someone else.

"As we crept around the corner ... I was thinking what the f***."

Again the officers missed the gunman. Hoffman allegedly fled the scene at 6.01pm to drive to Darwin Recycling about 2.5km away.

Peter Boden was at the property when Hoffmann allegedly murdered security guard Mr Courtney.

"He was on a mission. He started firing at one of the rooms," he said.



"I heard some agonising screams."

Mr Boden fled after he heard the shots but returned later to find Mr Courtney's body laying on a verandah

Hoffmann has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder and 10 other serious charges, including threatening to kill and recklessly endangering life.

Hoffman's defence lawyer Jon Tippett QC has asked the jury to consider Hoffmann's psychological state when he allegedly committed the offences.

The trial continues.

Australian Associated Press