Country Club accused killers face court

July 10, 2024
Clyde Mooney

Three men have faced court over the murder of Greg Harding, respected owner of Craignish Country Club, who suffered a fatal shotgun wound during what is suspected to be botched robbery.

On 16 August 2021, a man attended the club on routine business. Initially unable to locate Harding, he subsequently found the 64-year-old in his apartment, deceased, with multiple injuries, including a gunshot to the leg.

Detective Senior Sergeant David Harbison reported Queensland Police were treating the death as murder, given the extent of the injuries and because stacks of documents were found in the club’s carpark.

A week later, Joshua Marcus Pope, then aged 30, and Gregory Tremayne Pryor, then 25, were arrested.

In September a third man, then 24-year-old Ashton Taylor McKinley was arrested at a property in Crestmead and also charged with the murder.

The men were also committed to stand trial for a list of other offenses, and in December 2021 the trio had their charges briefly mentioned in court, with the matters adjourned.

According to Police documents tendered to court, in the days leading up to the alleged murder Pope, Pryor and McKinley allegedly committed numerous offences on the Sunshine Coast and  in Hervey Bay, including theft of two cars from different addresses and items such as jewellery, wallets and electronics, theft of number plates – swapped onto the stolen cars, and use of a 4WD to ram-raid the Cotton On store at Stocklands. The 4WD was later used to drive to Craignish Country Club. It was found burned out some time later, in Maryborough.

Suspects, caught on CCTV

All three faced a committal hearing this week at Brisbane Magistrates Court before Magistrate Ross Mack, with Pope and Pryor also accused of allegedly stealing money and a hard drive from Harding.

Amongst the witnesses who testified at the committal hearing were forensic pathologist Li Ma, who had performed the post-mortem on Harding. She spoke of a “large irregular gaping wound” on his right calf, concluded to have been caused by shotgun pellets, which severed an artery and resulted in his death.

The blast was said to have blown off “a big chunk of flesh and skin” and caused “fracturing of bone and destruction of soft tissue”.

Dr Ma also spoke of a laceration on Harding’s head that, due to an absence of healing, was concluded to have occurred no more than 24 hours before his death, and conceded that some of his injuries, specifically bruises and a fractured vertebra, could have been the result of either blunt force trauma or a fall.

Sergeant Michael Clark, Queensland Police ballistics expert, testified that a piece of shotgun wadding was found inside the wound, indicating the weapon would likely have been no more than 2.5 metres from Harding when it was fired.

Officers are still not clear on the motive behind the alleged murder, but there are suspicions it may have been a case of a burglary gone wrong.

Defence barristers did not apply for bail. The defendants declined to make any comment, and were returned to custody.

All three will face trial at Brisbane Supreme Court at a date yet to be determined.

Image: Google maps
Gregory Harding

Greg Harding had been a resident of Hervey Bay for many years, and was well regarded in the community. His family resumed operation of the golf club in the months after his passing, describing it as his “legacy”.


Craignish Country Club, Murder

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