Anthony Stott’s final hours were marred by confusion and violence in the presence of people he never knew.
Mr Stott, a loved and well-regarded French teacher at St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane, died when he was hit by a semi-trailer on the M1 about 7am on Monday February 10, 2020.
He had spent the last hours of his life detained at a farm in Cudgera Creek.
The teacher had broken into the property of Lauren Grainger and Mark Frost about five hours
earlier, and was later held there against his will.
Frost, who has since split from Grainger, and friend Craig Button earlier pleaded guilty to one count each of detaining Mr Stott with intent to obtain information and were given reduced sentences on the grounds they testified against Grainger.
But it took a week-long trial before their female counterpart was found guilty by a jury of Mr Stott’s aggravated kidnapping at the Tweed Valley NSW farm in February 2020.
During the hearing, the court was told how Mr Stott, who had just returned to Australia from Peru, was marched outside and tied to a chair in the farm’s shed during his hours-long ordeal.
The saga began when he drove his BMW off the M1 at Cudgera Creek and abandoned it on the side of a road.
He entered the couple’s house via a backdoor around 3.30am before being spotted by Grainger.
Prosecutor Josh Hanna told the court on Friday Mr Stott was then “marched out” to a shed for a “drunken, violent interrogation”.
Grainger claimed she saw Mr Stott with a knife while at the property.
Mr Stott was photographed while tied to the chair, which was allegedly hit with a golf club by Grainger.
Toxicology tests on Stott came back negative for drugs and alcohol, but the court heard he may have been psychotic at the time of the break in.
Mr Hanna said the group’s actions were “completely over the top and unreasonable” regardless of the circumstances.
“They didn’t give him an opportunity to explain who he was or what he was doing there – they went completely overboard in their response,” Mr Hanna said in court.
“In the completely wrong suspicion that he was there for sinister purposes, they restrained him, tied him up and conducted a drunken, violent interrogation over the next several hours.”
Mr Hanna went on to say the length of time Mr Stott was detained was proof enough that the actions weren’t justified.
“They claim they were confused and scared and angry,” he told the court.
“You couldn’t believe all that (the accused did) was necessary.”
“They had Mr Stott for hours, even though they were drunk.”
On Monday, Grainger testified she played a supporting role in the saga, which unfolded after Mr Stott entered the house with “crazy eyes” and a knife in the early hours.
“It was starting to get light, the boys wanted to get him off the farm and send him on his way,” she told the court.
“The boys put him in the back of a ute with a tourniquet on and went to dump him in a paddock so he wouldn’t be able to find his way back to the house.
“It’s a big property; we didn’t know where he was going to be.”
Once Mr Stott was released from the farm, Grainger said he wandered through paddocks, for 10 to 15 minutes, leaning on one post “like a gargoyle”.
Grainger said once he was out of sight, she heard an impact that she feared was a traffic collision.
“I said, ‘I think he’s been hit.’ I was freaking out,” she said.
“I was worried he was hit by a car or a truck.”
Mr Stott had in fact been hit by a semi-trailer, with the collision taking place around 7am. Around this time, Grainger said she swiftly went to assist a farm worker who arrived for their shift on the property.
She said Frost went to sleep around the same time.
“I pretty much didn’t stop crying from 7 in the morning for the whole day,” she said.
“I was just so freaked out by what happened.”
That afternoon, NSW Police filmed Grainger walking two officers through a part of the property to a shed, and explaining the early morning’s events.
In the clip, which was played in court, a rough version of the saga was retold for the first time in what would eventually unfold into the convictions of three people.
However, for Anthony Stott, the answers came far too late.