The jury has heard part of the first of three interviews Christchurch murder-accused David Benbow gave to police after Michael McGrath’s disappearance.
Benbow almost immediately brought up McGrath’s past mental health problems and said he didn’t think there was anything going on between McGrath and his ex-partner and even if there was it wasn’t his business and he’d moved on.
Just four days after McGrath vanished, police talked to Benbow.
“Michael McGrath’s who’s gone missing, we’ve got some concerns for him, OK,” one officer said.
“I’ve got concerns as well,” Benbow replied.
Less than two minutes into the interview Benbow brought up McGrath’s mental health issues.
“He had some mental health issues over his leg, you probably know that, yeah – where he’s quite bad,” he said.
“We had to go around about three times a week to check on him, see if he was alright.”
Then he talked about McGrath’s lack of a job.
“Doesn’t work, hasn’t worked for donkey’s years, he does cashies.”
The Crown says the catalyst for the murder was McGrath starting to date Benbow’s ex-partner of 17 years, Joanna Green.
But in the police interview, initially Benbow said nothing was going on between McGrath and Green.
“I think he was just helping her out a bit, much as I know really… cause I spoke to her sister and she said there’s nothing going on,” Benbow said.
In fact his counsellor has told the jury he was very upset about the pair dating and said he wanted to “annihilate” McGrath. But in his first police interview, he said he was OK with it.
“Did you have some concerns something might have been going on?” he was asked.
“Oh you sorta do, don’t you, but there’s not much you can do about it, just split up… it’s not really my business,” Benbow replied. “You sorta move on, don’t ya.”
Benbow invited McGrath to his house to help him move some railway sleepers on May 22.
Referring to some notes, Benbow told police he never showed up. He hasn’t been seen since.
“Two days real hard frost so just presumed cause it’s a hard frost that yeah he didn’t show up for that,” Benbow said.
The 54-year-old also talked about when Green rang him up, accusing him of doing something to McGrath.
“What have I done? I haven’t done anything… what are you trying to say here?” Benbow told police.
“Was she accusing you of doing something?” he was asked.
“I dunno, yeah, probably,” Benbow responded.
It’s now the Crown that’s accusing him of murder.