A scientist has told the Supreme Court murder accused Kate Stone would have suffered similar injuries to deceased man Darren Reid if she was beside him and had fuel on her when he was set alight.
Mr Reid died of severe burns after he was set on fire on December 18, 2016. Ms Stone has pleaded not guilty to his murder.
Forensic scientist John Kelleher said liquid in a motor spray container found in the next-door neighbour’s yard was toluene and xylene, consistent with enamel thinner.
He said the fire started by ignition of Mr Reid’s clothing, assisted by this mixture.
- Day 1: Murder trial begins for woman accused of setting partner alight
- Day 2: Murdered Bendigo man in fear for his life, mother tells court
- Day 3: Couple heard yelling in hours before fatal Long Gully fire
- Day 4: Murdered man told paramedic he did not know attacker, court hears
- Day 5: Daughter says three men set father on fire in Long Gully
- Day 6: Murder accused told police men were to blame for death
- Day 7: Man denies talking ‘revenge’ after confrontation with murdered man
- Day 8: Man not in area night of fatal Long Gully attack, court hears
- Day 9: Neighbours heard death threats before murder, court hears
- Day 10: Man tells court he was home the night of Darren Reid’s murder
- Day 11: Long Gully murder accused said she 'did it', neighbour tells court
- Day 12: Long Gully murder trial hears DNA evidence
Mr Kelleher said if Ms Stone had a cupful of fuel on her, as was suggested to him, and was standing next to the ignition source, it would have ignited “very rapidly”.
He said Ms Stone did not have serious burns, which could be consistent with standing next to someone on fire, if she did not have flammable liquid on her.
With fuel on her, he said, Ms Stone would have sustained similar injuries to Mr Reid.
Mr Kelleher said he tested clothing labelled ‘Gibson’ and ‘Baxter’, and a singlet and shorts, but did not detect any flammable liquid.
He determined the fire started on the verandah, but he could not confirm it did not start next to it.
He said there was no sign of fire or flammable liquid near the shed.
In cross-examination, Mr Kelleher said it was “just not likely” the fire could have started on the path leading to the verandah, as he would expect to see burnt grass, but he could not rule it out.
He said he was confident petrol was not involved in the fire.
Homicide Squad Detective Senior Constable Michael Cashman told the court Ms Stone used photo boards on December 20, 2016 to identify individuals she alleged were involved in the attack.
The court heard Ms Stone identified another man as Jason Baxter, the man she named as responsible for Mr Reid’s death and an earlier attack on her.
On a second photo board, Ms Stone incorrectly named Benjamin Thatcher as Mr Baxter.
Detective Senior Constable Cashman said Mr Thatcher’s photo was included as he had information the man was involved in an earlier incident concerning Ms Stone.
He said Mr Thatcher was in custody and had been since December 13, 2016. He said Ms Stone also incorrectly identified another man as Paul Gibson.
The jury also saw some of Ms Stone’s police interview from January 4, 2017.
Ms Stone named Mr Baxter, saying she knew him because of the alleged earlier attack.
The court heard further evidence from forensics officer Erin Pirie, who said analysis of a red lid taken as evidence showed “extremely strong support” for the proposition Mr Reid was a contributor to the DNA found on it, Ms Stone was likely not a contributor, and Mr Baxter and Mr Gibson were excluded.
In cross-examination, Ms Pirie said she did not test to determine the source of the DNA, nor how it was deposited.
She said it was possible Ms Stone’s DNA could be on an item if Mr Reid had come into physical contact with her, then touched it.
The trial continues.