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Hammer attack accused’s alleged bizarre internet searches

A man accused of attempting to bludgeon his roommate to death with a hammer allegedly performed internet searches for “murder”, “mutilation” and “violence on victim’s genitals” in the lead up to the attack, a court has heard.

Kevin Arden, 28, is standing trial in NSW District Court accused of drugging and beating friend Harry Sumantri, to whom he allegedly owed a six-figure debt.

Mr Arden has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder over the May 2020 alleged attack inside their Sydney CBD apartment.

The court heard Mr Arden did not deny hitting his friend with a steel-claw hammer, however was set to dispute several allegations including that he performed dozens of internet searches on murder, dissection and police investigations.

The internet searches

Crown prosecutor Giles Tabuteau told the court that in the weeks leading up to the incident, Mr Ardern had used his phone to search for terms like “how police track a murderer” and “this is how police track bandits”.

According to the crown, his other searches included: “how to prevent putrid smell from raw meat”, “five ways to store meat in fridge to make it long lasting and prevent smell”, “how to cut human”, “body autopsy process by forensic team is revealed”, “how to dissect human” and “what you see and feel while dissecting a corpse”.

The court also heard he had searched “forensic doctor reveals violence on victim’s genitals”, “murder with mutilation”, “perpetrator tricks police”, “can police access your bank account” and “changing phone’s SIM card, criminals still tracked down”.

Hammer Attack Victim Harry Sumantri
Camera IconHarry Sumantri being wheeled away by paramedics. Source: 7 News Credit: Channel 7

The alleged debt

The court heard the pair were friends who lived in the same room, divided by a makeshift partition, inside the Sydney CBD unit.

They were among seven people who lived inside the two-bedroom Day Street apartment, including several who slept in the living room.

The crown prosecution has alleged Mr Sumantri loaned Mr Arden $52,000 to invest in a business to sell hand sanitiser in Indonesia at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court heard they had an agreement for Mr Arden to pay back the loan, plus interest of around $28,000, by mid-May 2020.

The court also heard he had loaned Mr Arden an additional $20,000, with Mr Arden explaining he had a friend who needed money in Australian dollars and the amount would be paid back in Indonesia Rupiah.

Mr Sumantri had also loaned him additional money because Mr Arden, who was in Australia on a student visa, had lost his job at a cafe because of the pandemic and had also lost money gambling, the crown says.

Mr Tabuteau told the court in all, Mr Arden owed his flatmate about $100,000.

According to the crown case, Mr Ardern had also purchased several items which were found at the scene including a hacksaw, a green shopping trolley, disposable gloves and garbage bags.

“There’s a suggestion, it appears, that the items which he bought at the shop might have been needed for him as an employee at cafes and restaurants,” Mr Tabuteau said in his opening statement to the jury.

“Employers will tell you that no one who works in a cafe needs to bring their own steel claw hammer, hacksaw blade or bleach.”

Hammer Attack Victim Harry Sumantri
Camera IconHarry Sumantri claims he was drugged and bashed by Mr Arden. Source: 7 News. Credit: Channel 7

The alleged attack

The court heard that from November 2016 to February 2018, Mr Ardern had also lost $49,000 gambling at the Star Casino and approximately $20,000 with Oz Lotteries.

According to the crown case, Mr Arden had given Mr Sumantri a ginger drink spiked with doxylamine, an over-the-counter sleeping pill.

Mr Sumantri reported feeling drowsy and went to sleep around 4pm and woke to find Mr Arden standing over him hitting him with a hammer.

He turned on the bedroom light to see blood dripping onto his shirt and Mr Ardern standing over him, according to the crown.

Hearing cries for help, one of their housemates forced his way into the room, pinning Mr Arden behind the door, allowing Mr Sumantri to escape, the prosecutor told the court.

Mr Sumantri suffered two head fractures, a broken left hand and cuts and abrasions in the incident.

The court heard Police body-worn camera footage captured Mr Arden at the scene telling officers: “I think he wants to kill me”.

Harry Triguboff-designed Millennium Tower complex in Day Street in Sydney's CBD.
Camera IconThe Day Street apartment where the alleged attack occurred. Credit: News Corp Australia

“He hit him more than once”

Defence barrister Nicole Carroll said it was not denied that her client had hit his flatmate, however would be contesting many of the surrounding circumstances, including the alleged debt and key events inside their bedroom.

She also said while Mr Arden accepted the internet searches were performed using his phone, he denied it was him who carried them out.

“Kevin Arden did hit Harry Sumantri on the evening as described by the crown. And he hit him more than once,” Ms Carroll said.

“But when that happened, he did not intend to kill him. He did not intend to murder him.”

The trial continues.

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