Kate Stone murder committal: Family tells court of Long Gully house fire suspicions

Kate Stone, 40, claimed that three men were responsible for the death of Darren Auditori Reid. She was charged with his murder. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Kate Stone, 40, claimed that three men were responsible for the death of Darren Auditori Reid. She was charged with his murder. Picture: DARREN HOWE

THE mother of a man burned to death inside a house in Long Gully last year claims the murder accused – the victim’s partner – once chased her son down the street with a carving knife.

Kate Stone, 40, was charged with the murder of Darren Reid, 45, following a house fire in Derwent Drive on December 18.

She appeared at the first day of a committal hearing in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Stone shook her head and gestured repeatedly as Valda Webb, the mother of Mr Reid, told the court about some of the alleged details of her son’s relationship with Stone.

Ms Webb said she received a phone call from Mr Reid on November 7 claiming he was in fear of his life.

“He said ‘mum… she’s going to kill me’,” she said.

“He said that Kate had chased him down the street with a carving knife and was threatening to stab him.”

The matter was not reported to police at the time.

Ms Webb also claimed Mr Reid used multiple phones so he could avoid phone calls from Stone while he was driving trucks interstate, and that he had developed an ice problem following the death of his father.

One witness told the court Stone and Ms Webb argued in front of Mr Reid as he lay in a critical condition in The Alfred Hospital after suffering the fatal burns.

Ms Webb said she was suspicious of Stone’s involvement in the fire, and she “wanted answers”.

Other witnesses spoke about Stone’s movements later in the night – and her repeated assertion that three men had run into the house and set Mr Reid on fire.

Stone’s defence counsel Richard Edney said the court would hear evidence from a police officer who claims Mr Reid blamed three men for the fire.

The comments were made while Mr Reid was being taken to hospital in an ambulance, Mr Edney said.

The court is yet to hear first-hand evidence about the fire itself, however.

Stone went to the house of Mr Reid’s sister, Janyne Auditori, in the hours after the fire where she was in a “rambling” state.

Ms Auditori said she was aware that three men, one armed with a plank, had visited Mr Reid’s house several weeks before the fire during a dispute about an incident that occurred at the Long Gully splash park.

She said Stone blamed these men for the fire, but the family was reluctant to believe her.

“We don’t know who they would be, the men, that Kate described,” Ms Auditori said.

“It just seemed very suspicious how it happened.”

The hearing continues in Bendigo on Tuesday.