Murdered woman's screams heard

Linda Tregerthan, who was stabbed to death at her Shirley Lane home in 2004.
Linda Tregerthan, who was stabbed to death at her Shirley Lane home in 2004.

A WOMAN working in a shed for an environmental group heard the loud screams of Linda Tregerthan coming from her Byron Bay home just across the street, but failed to realise the horror taking place.

Six years after the brutal murder of Ms Tregerthan, her accused killer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has gone on trial in a special sitting of the Supreme Court in Lismore.

The accused, formerly of Byron Bay, who has been in custody since 2007, is pleading not guilty of murdering Ms Tregerthan at her rented Shirley Lane home on August 30, 2004.

The accused, a long-time resident of the Northern Rivers, has previously been found by the court not fit to plead by reason of a mental illness, with the matter now under way as a judge alone trial.

In its opening address before Justice Robert Allan Hulme, the Crown said DNA evidence found under the fingernails of Ms Tregerthan and blood spots on a pink pillowcase found near her body linked the accused to the crime.

He said the victim’s daughter, then aged 17, discovered her mother’s bloodied body lying face down in the sunroom of their home about 1pm on the day of her death.

The 43-year-old New Zealand-born naturopath had been stabbed to death and suffered other physical injuries.

The Crown said an autopsy found stab wounds to her neck and torso and bruising to other areas of her body. Some wounds were defensive.

It said that the Mental Health Review Tribunal had determined the accused would not be fit to plead for the next 12 months.

Dressed in white sandshoes, cream shirt and with a receding hairline, the accused sat quietly in the dock leaning forward and listening intently to the legal proceedings.

Details revealed Ms Tregerthan shared her home by renting rooms to other people, her daughter lived in a caravan in the yard and another woman resided in a bus parked beside the house.

The Crown said one witness would give evidence that two weeks before the murder she had been chatting to Ms Tregerthan in the lane when a man approached them.

The Crown said the man, whose description matched the accused, said to Ms Tregerthan: “I know what you do. I know what you are up to.” The woman intervened by standing between him and her friend and the man walked away.

Don Sanderson, assisting the Crown, read to the court a statement made by a woman who had been working in a shed in Shirley Lane for an environmental group.

She told police she heard a woman’s loud screams that morning then a thud. Despite going outside to look across at the nearby houses she saw nothing.

The woman thought nothing more until an ambulance arrived hours later.

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