Housemates allegedly tried to drug Bendigo mother Samantha Kelly to death before her murder

Mother-of-four Samantha Kelly, 39, was murdered in a bungalow at the rear of a property she shared with co-accused Christine Lyons, Ronald Lyons and Peter Arthur on Wesley Street, Kangaroo Flat.
Mother-of-four Samantha Kelly, 39, was murdered in a bungalow at the rear of a property she shared with co-accused Christine Lyons, Ronald Lyons and Peter Arthur on Wesley Street, Kangaroo Flat.

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POLICE believe Samantha Kelly’s three housemates attempted to drug her to death before Peter Arthur eventually used a hammer to deliver a fatal blow later in the night.

Excerpts from Arthur’s interview with police in August were read to the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, during the third day of a committal hearing for murder accused Christine Lyons, 45, and Ronald Lyons, 44.

The two have been charged with murdering Ms Kelly in Kangaroo Flat, while Arthur has already pleaded guilty to the charge.

The court also heard Christine Lyons discussed plans to kill Ms Kelly by pushing her into Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake during a holiday.

Detective Sergeant Sol Solomon was questioned about his interview with Arthur in Port Phillip Prison on September 12, seven months after his arrest for murdering Ms Kelly.

During the interview, Arthur claimed himself, Christine Lyons and Ronald Lyons supplied Ms Kelly with prescription medication throughout the day, before she was murdered in the early hours of the next morning.

“There had been a number of attempts to overdose Samantha on the day of her death, and before that day,” Arthur told police.

“In the end it didn’t work, so it was decided that she would be finished off in another way and that is why I killed her with the hammer.”

An unspecified amount of the sedative Phenergan was found in Ms Kelly’s liver during the autopsy. She was murdered on January 20, and her body was found on February 11.

In other parts of the police interview, Arthur claimed he did not intend to murder Ms Kelly when he went to her bungalow.

Peter Arthur has pleaded guilty to murdering Samantha Kelly with a hammer.

Peter Arthur has pleaded guilty to murdering Samantha Kelly with a hammer.

Arthur told police he was only in Ms Kelly’s bungalow at 2.30am – when she was killed – to collect a DVD because he could not sleep.

“Around 2.30am the next day, so after we had taken the tablets out to Sam, I went out to the unit to get a Walker, Texas Ranger DVD,” he said.

“I opened the unit door and Sam was standing in the bedroom doorway. Samantha was groggy, she wasn’t really alert, was very unsteady, rocking back and forth, side to side.

“I think she was affected by the drugs that Christine and Ronald had taken out to her all day and night.”

Arthur denied he played any role in the drugging of Ms Kelly, and flushed tablets down the toilet because he thought “there were too many”.

He claimed he heard Christine and Ronald Lyons discuss killing Ms Kelly “10 or 12 times each” in the weeks leading up to her death, including an alleged plan to murder her in Mount Gambier.

“They were thinking about taking a drive back over to South Australia where we’d been once before with Samantha and the kids,” he said in the police interview.

“There’s a lake there that they call Blue Lake or something, it’s like an old crater, all fenced off and that.

“They were going to take her there and push her off into there.”

He said they made the decision to “get rid of” Ms Kelly because she “wasn’t taking care… of her kids”. The court earlier heard Christine Lyons believed two of the children were supposed to belong to her.

Christine Lyons arrives in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court for the committal hearing.

Christine Lyons arrives in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court for the committal hearing.

When asked if it was decided that Ms Kelly would be “finished off” in a different way to the drugs, Arthur replied: “Probably”. It was the final question of the interview.

Arthur told police Christine and Ronald Lyons decided to concoct a story about Ms Kelly’s disappearance while he was away burying the body in bushland west of Bendigo.

Arthur will be called to give evidence to the hearing on Friday.

Defence counsel Chris Dane, acting for Christine Lyons, said Arthur attempted to separate himself from the actions of Christine and Ronald Lyons at various stages of the police interview.

Ronald Lyons had his accessory after the fact charge upgraded to murder on September 26 – two weeks after Arthur’s interview with police in prison. Christine Lyons’ charge was upgraded to murder on August 11.

The three were charged with murder as part of a “joint criminal enterprise”.

Detective Sergeant Solomon told the court there was no evidence to suggest there was a plan to use an “implement” to murder Ms Kelly.

Allan Walkom, who travelled with the three accused, Ms Kelly and her children to Mount Gambier, was called as a witness during the hearing on Wednesday.

He was asked whether Christine Lyons can be “quite childlike in the way in which she addresses issues”, but Mr Walkom disagreed.

Peter Arthur allegedly used Mr Walkom’s car to transport Ms Kelly’s body after the murder.

Jason Roberts, who was in a police cell with Ronald Lyons after his arrest, was also called as a witness, but refused to stand by a statement he made to police on February 16.

Christine Lyons was in a neighbouring cell at the time. Mr Roberts allegedly heard the pair discussing the disposal of the murder weapon, and spoke with both of them.

Mr Roberts said he could not recall making the statement to police.

“I was going through drug-induced psychosis – 56 days of ice use,” he told the court.

The hearing continues in Bendigo on Thursday.