Committal hearing begins into murder of Kangaroo Flat woman Samantha Kelly

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TWO people charged with murdering Kangaroo Flat mother-of-four Samantha Kelly allegedly asked another woman to kill Ms Kelly on three occasions before carrying out the murder themselves, it has been alleged in court.

Christine Lyons, 45, and Ronald Lyons, 44 appeared at the first day of a committal hearing in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with the murder of Ms Kelly.

The court heard from four witnesses, and will hear from co-accused Peter Arthur, 45, by video link later this week. A total of 29 witnesses will give evidence.

Arthur has already pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Kelly with a hammer in the Kangaroo Flat home he shared with her, Christine Lyons and Ronald Lyons, on or around January 20. Ms Kelly lived in a bungalow at the rear of the property with her children.

One witness, Andrew Binks, told the court Christine Lyons and Peter Arthur asked his housemate Shiralee Lyons to murder Ms Kelly on three separate occasions.

Mr Binks said Shiralee Lyons revealed the contents of the conversations to him on February 2 – while they were discussing the disappearance of Ms Kelly. He did not hear the conversation himself.

“Shiralee had told me also – what prompted me to do this – she was asked to kill Samantha Kelly,” he told the court.

“Shiralee told me, in her words, that the first two times she was asked she never took it seriously. The third time it was meant very seriously, that’s when I told her to get in the car and go to the police straight away.”

Ms Kelly had been missing since January 20, the last time she was known to have accessed her Facebook page.

Mr Binks said he and Shiralee went straight to police when he was told about the request to have Ms Kelly murdered.

Mother-of-four Samantha Kelly.

Mother-of-four Samantha Kelly.

He also told the court Christine Lyons said Ms Kelly was missing because she wanted a break from the house.

“I was told Samantha had gone walkabout, from Christine Lyons,” he said.

“I assumed that, from Chrissy, she needed a break. And she had gone walkabout for that purpose.”

In his statement to police on February 10, Mr Binks said “all hell broke loose” when others found out he reported on February 2 that Ms Kelly was missing.

Her body was later found buried in a tarpaulin in bushland near Shelbourne on February 12.

Mr Binks said Christine Lyons told him another man, Mark Glare – the father of one of Ms Kelly’s children – had arranged to have Ms Kelly murdered.

Mr Glare, of Ballarat, gave evidence to the court on Monday and admitted his relationship with Ms Kelly had included instances of violence. On one occasion he grabbed her by the throat, the court heard.

Ms Kelly gave birth to their child in early 2015, but the pair were not in a relationship at the time. Ms Kelly also had a child by Mr Glare’s brother.

Mr Glare said Ms Kelly wanted to be in a relationship with him, but he refused.

In Mr Glare’s statement to police, partially read to the court, he said he “threatened” Ms Kelly after she made an accusation against his son and threw a cup at his head.

“After I last saw Sammy, I was angry with Sammy because of what she said about (my son),” his statement read.

“I did not see Sammy again, but I did threaten her. I threatened her before I disconnected my number.”

His threat was in the form of a text message which read: “Hahaha I will see you real soon”.

Peter Arthur, Ronald Lyons and Christine Lyons in front of the Kangaroo Flat house they shared.

Peter Arthur, Ronald Lyons and Christine Lyons in front of the Kangaroo Flat house they shared.

The court heard Christine Lyons told Mr Glare that Ms Kelly had been abusive towards her own children, but Mr Glare said he only saw it occur once.

Christine Lyons told him about the alleged abuse after Ms Kelly went missing.

Another witness told the court Christine Lyons attempted to pay a teenage friend $1000 and medical costs to get pregnant by Ronald Lyons, and to act as their surrogate.

The witness said her friend considered accepting the offer as she “needed the money” to fund her methamphetamine addiction.

“(She) was to have sexual intercourse with Ron for the baby,” she said.

“(She) came to me asking me for my opinion, because Christine and Ron had asked her to have a baby for her.

“Christine and Ron would pay medical expenses, and give (her) $1000 if she was to succeed in the pregnancy.

“All that (she) said was that Christine was really pushing her to have a baby, she wasn’t sure what to do about it but she was needing the money.

“I said not to do it.”

The witness said she made a report with the Department of Housing and Human Services about Christine Lyons’ request of her teenage friend.

The next door neighbour of Christine Lyons, Ronald Lyons, Peter Arthur and Ms Kelly also provided evidence to the court, and said she did not suspect anything “untoward” was being planned.

Pauline Pettersen said she spent New Year’s Eve in 2015 with her neighbours, and spoke with them briefly on other occasions.

“We were all having fun and laughing that night,” she said.

Ms Pettersen did not report hearing anything unusual from next door, but saw Peter Arthur doing a major clean up of the backyard at one stage.

“That’s when I spotted the couch. I let him do what he had do to because it was hot.”

The hearing before Magistrate Michael King continues in Bendigo on Tuesday.