THE star witness in the so-called Surfers Paradise highrise sniper shooting never saw the gun, which has never been found, a court has been told.
More than two years after businessman Hylton Miller was shot and badly wounded as he strolled along the beachfront with his family, a committal hearing against the accused gunman – former strip club bouncer Rick El Masri – finally began yesterday.
The proceedings followed more than a dozen adjournments as police and defence lawyers wrangled over how the case should proceed.
Mr Miller has blasted the delays, saying they had prolonged his suffering as he continued to receive treatment for his shocking injuries which left him on life support for four months.
Police have previously alleged El Masri shot Mr Miller from a unit in the Circle on Cavill highrise in December 2010 while taking aim at the Hollywood Showgirls strip club, where he had worked security. El Masri, 35, has been charged with grievous bodily harm, illegal possession of a weapon, and two counts of dangerous conduct with a weapon.
Yesterday, Southport Magistrates Court heard three people who were in the Circle on Cavill apartment would give evidence against El Masri despite the threat that they themselves could be charged with offences.
The court was told a possible deal to give the three witnesses indemnity from prosecution had fallen through, with police deciding not to seek indemnities from Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.
One of the witnesses, Hakan “Harry” Altinoglu, allegedly heard El Masri fire the gun from a balcony on the highrise building.
The court heard Altinoglu heard the gunshot, turned around, and told El Masri: “What did you do that for? You may have shot someone.”
Surfers Paradise detective Lynton Bradbury, under cross-examination, said that Altinoglu described seeing El Masri patting his hip before the shooting – he never actually saw a gun.
“At no point does he actually see the firearm in his hand,” detective Senior Constable Bradbury said.
He also said the gun, which police believed was a .45-calibre revolver, had not been recovered.
The officer rejected suggestions from defence barrister Tony Kimmins that police had pressured Altinoglu and his girlfriend to give evidence against El Masri during four separate interviews.
“We were trying to get him to tell us the truth,” Sen-Constable Bradbury said.
“We had to work extremely hard to get information out of him.”
The hearing continues today at Southport Magistrates Court, when Altinoglu and his partner are expected to give evidence.