Sunshine Coast chef's accused murderer found not guilty
A MAN accused of viciously bludgeoning former Sunshine Coast chef Peter Milos to death with a spirit level and a hammer has been acquitted of the charge following a retrial.
There were gasps audible in the Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday after the jury found James Thomas Howell not guilty of Mr Milos' murder at a Morningside property in May 2014.
Mr Milos's mother and brother were said to be devastated.
The chef's body was found in the storage room of the house.
The prosecution alleged Mr Howell - who pleaded not guilty when his trial began last week - repeatedly bashed in Mr Milos's skull after he was captured on CCTV walking near the house on the afternoon of May 4.
The jury retired about 4pm on Monday and yesterday morning - after a total of more than six hours deliberations - sent a note to Justice Martin Daubney, indicating they had been unable to reach a verdict so far.
Justice Daubney told them experience had shown juries were often able to agree in the end and asked them to retire again to determine whether they could reach a unanimous decision.
Just before 3.30pm, the jury returned a not guilty verdict to murder, with Justice Daubney discharging Mr Howell.
The trial had heard Mr Milos was being pursued over about $10,000 in drug debts when he was killed, and had plans to leave for Croatia.
Defence barrister Jeff Hunter QC told the jury Mr Howell denied being at Mr Milos's house at the time of the murder, and said there was no evidence of blood splatter on Mr Howell's clothing. Mr Hunter had also urged the jury to consider whether there were others with a strong motive to kill Mr Milos.