The mother of missing Whanganui man Brett Hall has testified that she heard her son arguing with the man accused of his murder.

Levona Joan Hall told the High Court in Palmerston North she was "very close" to her son Bretton Roy Hall, who disappeared from his Pitangi property seven years ago.

David Owen Lyttle stands accused of his murder.

Read more: Man accused of murdering Brett Hall at his Pitangi property near Whanganui was his friend David Owen Lyttle
Missing Whanganui man Brett Hall's brother testifies, says his brother had been shot at before for drug related reasons


Crown prosecutor Michele Wilkinson-Smith asked Hall whether her son argued with Lyttle at her Palmerston North home weeks before the alleged murder.

Bretton Roy Hall, who disappeared from his Pitangi property seven years ago. Photo / NZ Police
Bretton Roy Hall, who disappeared from his Pitangi property seven years ago. Photo / NZ Police

Hall said she heard them arguing from another room. She said her son accused Lyttle of using his money to buy poor quality materials and was frustrated with the slow progress made on his home.

Despite ill-feeling beginning to show between the two, Hall said voices were not raised and both men remained relatively civil until Lyttle left her property.

Lyttle returned, but was gone again soon after and this time she said her son Bretton was "angry".

"$1800, that's all he's given me. $1800," Hall said Bretton had yelled at the time.

"Brett was not happy with the way the build was going at the time."

Hall could not confirm that her son was definitely waving the money at her at the time, but it was believed to be a repayment of funds advanced to Lyttle by Hall for materials to build his house.

Hall was then questioned by defence councel for Lyttle, Christopher Stevenson.


Stevenson asked about properties the family had spent time at while Brett Hall was growing up and the jobs he had.

When he was about 15, Bretton worked for a farmer, before bartending in Hunterville and later working at Prepared Foods with his mother and brother Michael.

Stevenson asked Hall whether she knew about her son's use or supply of methamphetamine.

"I didn't know about it until he was in prison," Hall said.

She did remember going for tea at Bretton's house months before he was arrested and realising he would often cook for her and chat with her while she ate, but he would not eat.

Stevenson asked her whether she remembered telling police at a later date her son would become "withdrawn" when coming down off methamphetamine, but she said that she did not.

Hall was paroled from prison in 2009 after serving a seven and a half year sentence for drug dealing and unlawfully possessing a pistol.

While it is believed Bretton and Lyttle knew each other for about 20 years, Hall said she had known Lyttle and his family for 12.

The two families once holidayed together in the small fishing village of Ngawi in South Wairarapa and Hall would go walking with Lyttle's wife Helen.

The trial continues today, with Bretton's brother Michael set to testify.

What we know so far:

The Crown has alleged that David Owen Lyttle, 53, shot his friend Bretton Roy Hall and then suffocated him with a plastic bag on May 27, 2011.

Lyttle was arrested in 2014 and has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder. He faces trial by jury, made up of 10 women and two men in the High Court in Palmerston North.

The Crown alleges that Lyttle hacked Hall's body into pieces using a Stanley knife and a handsaw, before placing the pieces into black plastic bags.

They then say that Lyttle tried to set up the scene of Hall's Pitangi site to make it look as if Hall had gone hunting and got himself lost.

He supposedly parked a quad bike up along the bushline and then left an empty firearms case lying on the floor of the caravan that Hall lived in.

It is also believed he lit a fire to burn evidence.

The next allegation is that Lyttle placed the bags in his dark grey Nissan Terrano, where they remained under firewood for two days as Lyttle helped his brother move furniture on Saturday.

At 4.01am on Sunday, May 29, Lyttle's Terrano was spotted on CCTV footage in Bulls and at 4.29 it was spotted again heading north towards Turakina.

Lyttle filled his vehicle with $40 petrol and it was spotted twice more within an hour going back and forth between Turakina and Bulls.

The Crown believes Lyttle was trying to bury the body parts at the beach, but was blocked from doing so by barricades.

Defence councel for Lyttle, Christopher Stevenson said that his client is an avid fisherman and that was his reason for being out where he was at that time.

Crown prosecutor Michele Wilkinson-Smith said Lyttle "later told undercover officers that he buried the body in two locations".

Those undercover officers, under the pseudonyms of "Nick" and "Scott" were part of an operation devised to get Lyttle to confess.

They posed as members of a criminal group and tried to lure Lyttle into their organisation with promises of big pay days for the crimes they would commit.

Part of the process for Lyttle during the three month sting in 2014 was that he had to be upfront with any problems he'd had with police in the past.

Eventually, Lyttle earned an opportunity to be interviewed by the "big boss" or "Scott" who prompted Lyttle to tell him whether he was involved in the disappearance of Brett Hall.

Stevenson said that at first, his client denied having any involvement, but when it was made clear to him by "Scott" that this was an unacceptable answer, he admitted to killing him.

Stevenson said his client had lied and done so because "Scott" had threatened Hall by saying that he wouldn't be a part of their criminal group and wouldn't make any money if he wasn't upfront.

The trial could continue for up to 10 weeks and following Hall's testimony, there are 59 more witnesses set to take the stand.