Wellsford murder charge hearing begins

Custody: Danielle Kerr, 37, leaves Bendigo Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Custody: Danielle Kerr, 37, leaves Bendigo Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

UPDATE 6.50pm: A MAN found dead in Wellsford Forest told colleagues and acquaintances only months before his death he had been assaulted by his former partner and feared he would be killed if he left her, a court has heard.

The remains of Kerang man William Stevenson, 47, were found in the boot of a burnt-out vehicle in Wellsford Forest on January 2. 

Danielle Kerr, 37, yesterday appeared at Bendigo Magistrates Court for a committal hearing on charges of murder and accessory to murder along with her co-accused, Darren Lewis, 47, who appeared on one charge of murder.

Magistrate Kay Robertson heard evidence from five witnesses who spoke of seeing Mr Stevenson with a black eye, scratches and bruises to his face and body in August last year.

Mr Stevenson told them his injuries were the result of Ms Kerr violently attacking him, at one point throwing heavy items such as a gas heater at him and causing him to curl up in a foetal position to protect himself.

His former employers, Lake Bael Bael farmers Jacinta and Brett Boyd, gave separate testimony about Ms Kerr as someone they had known that would drop Mr Stevenson to work, and someone they believed to be in a relationship with him.

Mrs Boyd recalled one incident where Mr Stevenson was in tears on the phone to her, explaining he could not get to work after Ms Kerr had taken his car, phone and wallet. 

Mr Boyd said he thought Mr Stevenson was scared of Ms Kerr, and said he would jump out of the windows at home to escape her "moods".

Mr Stevenson's next-door neighbour, retiree Elizabeth Walden, said in about November he told her he got a job at Hazledene’s Chicken farm in Bendigo.

The weekend before Christmas, he told her, "I’m moving, she’s (Kerr) not going to be happy about it".

She also told the court that on a day "after Christmas" she had seen Ms Kerr with two men washing a car out the front of Mr Stevenson's house, one of whom was the co-accused.

Bruce Wright, a retail worker who knew Mr Stevenson and had knowledge of Ms Kerr from their previous discussions together, gave evidence he last saw Mr Stevenson in December.

During a brief conversation between the pair at his business, Mr Wright said Mr Stevenson told him if he left Ms Kerr "she's going to kill me".

The committal hearing resumes today with further witnesses expected to give evidence tomorrow.

EARLIER: A MAN found dead in the Wellsford Forest told colleagues only months before his death he had been assaulted by his former partner and feared he would be killed if he left her, a court has heard.

The remains of Kerang man William Stevenson, 47, were found in the boot of a burnt-out vehicle in Wellsford Forest on January 2. 

Danielle Kerr, 37, today appeared at Bendigo Magistrates Court for a committal hearing on charges of murder and accessory to murder along with her co-accused, Darren Lewis, 47, who appeared on one charge of murder.

Magistrate Kay Robertson heard evidence from five witnesses who spoke of seeing Mr Stevenson with a black eye, scratches and bruises to his face and body in August last year.

Mr Stevenson told them his injuries were the result of Ms Kerr violently attacking him, at one point throwing heavy items such as a gas heater at him and causing him to curl up in a foetal position to protect himself.

The witnesses included two of Mr Stevenson's former employers, a co-worker at the farm where he worked in Lake Bael Bael, his former next-door neighbour and an acquaintance.

One witness told the court he last saw Mr Stevenson in December, 2013, when he said he felt Ms Kerr would harm him if he left her.

More to come.

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