The man accused of murdering missing Whanganui man Brett Hall told police in an interview he was with Hall days after he went missing and that he was alive and well.

David Owen Lyttle is on trial in the High Court at Palmerston North for the murder of Hall in 2011.

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

But in the Police interview Lyttle said he'd had a cup of tea and beers with Hall at his Pitangi property and taken him some meat on the Sunday following his disappearance.


But on day two of the trial on Tuesday, the Crown argued Lyttle was lying to police and he couldn't have possibly known that the day before, Hall's son Damian had visited the Pitangi property and been unable to find him.

"Me and a friend of mine Josh and Josh's girlfriend's Dad, we went for a very quick hunt up at the farm," Damian Hall said.

"Dad wasn't there, the quad bike wasn't at the caravan, the door to the caravan was open, the door to the new shed was open and the other shed didn't have a door."

Damian Hall said his Dad looked after things, such as his new quad bike which he would keep clean and cover at night to protect it.

This is why Damian Hall believed it was unusual that the caravan door was open and he decided to go inside.

"There was a gun bag on the floor, a hunting and fishing gun bag and one I hadn't seen before and that was strange," Damian Hall said.

Damian Hall and his friend Joshua Freemantle were looking forward to shooting a new gun that Freemantle's father-in-law had purchased.

However, they knew they needed to locate Brett Hall before they began tracking animals to shoot just in case he was near them.


Damian Hall took his two wheeler motorbike to start looking for his Dad up one of the tracks on the property while Freemantle and his father-in-law took another connecting path.

The three met back up where the two tracks intersect.

"I was really hoping to hear that they'd seen Dad and they said that they hadn't. I got worried at that point," Hall said.

"I was starting to think maybe he'd had an accident, the tracks up there are very steep and I was very concerned."

The party began heading back towards the campsite, Damian Hall on his motorbike when he heard Freemantle yelling from behind him.

He pointed out that way across on another side of the farm, Brett Hall's quad bike was parked up.

"It was on a track that I never knew even existed," Hall said.

"Once I'd seen that, I was then feeling absolutely fine, Dad's doing something, maybe gone for a walk or maybe seen a deer or something."

The search for Brett Hall gets underway in 2011.
The search for Brett Hall gets underway in 2011.

Four days later, a police officer called Damian Hall at work and told him his father was missing.

The trial continues.

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 counsel 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.