Asked for gun as ‘protection’, now he’s dead
A MAN who police believed died in a shooting accident on a Queensland farm had borrowed a shotgun from his brother, saying he may need it to defend himself against hostile co-workers.
The explosive evidence is contained in an official statement given to investigators by David Brooks, brother of Jeffrey Brooks, 24, who was fatally shot at the Beenleigh Crayfish Farm south of Brisbane on March 13, 1996.
Police determined Jeffrey accidentally shot himself in the upper left chest after reaching into a vehicle and grabbing an old firearm - barrel first - which discharged when the hammer slipped.
An investigation by The Courier-Mail is shedding new light on the incident, which family, friends and independent investigators believe was murder.
Jeffrey, an aquaculturist, had been employed to find out why the operation was failing and his presence had not been well received by co-workers who believed they would soon lose their jobs.
A coronial inquest returned an open finding, with the Coroner expressing concerns about tensions on the farm and accounts that Jeffrey had feared for his safety.
At his parents' suggestion, David Brooks, gave a statement to police on November 11, 1997, which was later tendered at the inquest.
In this, he said his brother, who had been living in a caravan on the crayfish farm, had come to his house "quite distressed'' about four months prior to his death.
"He asked me if he could borrow my 12-gauge pump-action seven-shot shotgun. I asked him why he wanted it and Jeffrey said that he honestly feared for his life,'' David said.
"He thought (the farm manager) might 'try something on the weekend'. Jeffrey said that my shotgun was best suited for self-protection. I asked a few questions and Jeffrey said that he had been threatened by the manager and had had a rough time on the farm.''
David let him borrow the shotgun on the promise he would only use it in an extreme situation.
He said Jeffrey had been so impressed with it that he had asked his boss Greg Milham to buy one for the property.
At that time there was only an old gun in a very dilapidated and dangerous state, belonging to the farm manager, being used on the farm.
Adding to the suspicion surrounding Jeffrey's death is the fact that the firearm that caused his death was the older gun, the one owned by the manager, that Jeffrey had told several people he would never use.
His new gun was locked up only a short distance away from where his body was found.