Key witness in murder case used ice before alleged crime, Warrnambool court hears

THE key witness in a murder case committal hearing yesterday admitted to using ice in the 24 hours before her passenger was allegedly abducted and killed.

Samantha Porter told the Warrnambool Magistrates Court via a video link that she dropped off Mount Gambier man Gordon Hamm, 34, in Portland about 11am on Tuesday, July 16, last year.

She said she returned to Portland in the early hours of the next morning to pick up Mr Hamm.

Mount Gambier men Mark Moreland, 35, and Christopher Tippens, 29, have been charged with murder and Tai Thorp with assisting offenders after a murder.

Ms Porter said she was paid to drive Mr Hamm, provided $40 petrol money and given ice or crystal methamphetamine to use.

She said after picking up Mr Hamm in the early hours of Wednesday, July 17, she got lost leaving Portland, found her way and then pulled over to smoke ice about halfway back to the Nelson bridge.

Ms Porter said Mr Hamm also used ice while she was driving.

Ms Porter said that mid last year she was using ice once or twice a week and she had known Mr Hamm, who she described as an acquaintance, for between six and 12 months.

She said she also used drugs when she took Mr Hamm to Portland and before returning to pick him up.

Ms Porter said she had a driver’s licence, was working part-time and was paid to drive, but she had no idea why Mr Hamm wanted to go to Portland.

She said she had been watching TV with her then- boyfriend Mark Tippens late on the Tuesday when she got a message that Mr Hamm wanted to be picked up. Under questioning, Ms Porter described being boxed in by two four-wheel-drive vehicles at the Nelson bridge on the return trip.

“The first person came towards us with, I don’t know, a rifle or something. They obviously got Gordon out of the car, they brought him to the front of the car,” Ms Porter said.

“The second person told me to drive out of there, so I did, I drove off. It felt like a minute all up. I just wanted to get out of there.”

Ms Porter said she recognised the two men as Mark “Freddie” Moreland and Chris Tippens.

She said the last time she saw Mr Hamm he was on his hands and knees. 

“I couldn’t see anything when I was driving away,” she said, before recalling that Mr Hamm was making sounds like a pig being killed.

Ms Porter said she rang friend Ricky Noonan after driving from the bridge and asked what the hell was going on.

“I was in hysterics. I don’t think I made much sense. He told me to calm down. I thought he would know what was going on. Chris, Freddie, Mark and Ricky, they all knew each other. I just wanted information. I was freaking out,” she said.

Ms Porter said Mr Moreland and Mr Tippens came to her house a couple of hours later.

“I was expecting them,” she said.

Ms Porter said Mr Tippens asked to speak to her. 

“He said he was very sorry to get me involved and basically don’t repeat it,” she said, referring to the incident on the bridge.

“I asked why did this happen or that it shouldn’t have happened. Chris said, ‘that’s what you get for being in the Tippens family’,” she said.

The hearing before magistrate Michael Coghlan continues today.

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