A woman accused of killing an elderly man with a frying pan in Sydney’s eastern suburbs allegedly “called him a dog” and argued with him over unreturned CDs and money, a court has heard.
Julia Straffello, testifying in the murder trial of Narelle’s ex-girlfriend Fiona Smith, said Tuesday that her South Coogee neighbor and sometime lover, Peter McCarthy, was angry with the accused before his death in December 2020.
“Peter told me that he had lent Narella some CDs … and he was having trouble getting them back,” Strafello said. She couldn’t remember when the problem arose, but said McCarthy, 77, said he wanted the CDs back.
The pair also argued over $30 the elderly pensioner had lent Smith, the court was told.
Supreme Court jurors were told that when Straffello brought up McCarthy in the conversation, Smith said no.
“She called him a dog,” Straffello said Tuesday. “I decided to stop doing it [mentioning McCarthy] because I didn’t want to be involved in dramas.’
After learning of McCarthy’s death the day his body was discovered, a witness said she went into shock and began drinking in her flat before meeting friends for drinks.
She also texted Smith: “Don’t worry about the CDs. Peter is dead.” There was no answer, the jury was told.
Straffello later confronted Smith near Coogee Cemetery, where she was seen yelling at an unknown man before the pair began talking.
“When I came over, I think she recognized me… I was still upset about what happened to Peter,” she said. “I just said… leave me alone. I don’t want to hug.’
Strafella told the court that Smith became upset before becoming angry with her and yelling at her about Peter.
“She was screaming, ‘Me and my team got rid of him, they’re going to get rid of you next,'” she claimed. “I didn’t believe it. I just thought she was stupid. I’m numb.”
Straffella then left and continued drinking on the beach before returning home and talking to her friends Donna and Kylie about what Smith had said. The group then decided to contact the police.
She later told Smith about the text message conversation after television news reports claimed the defendant had been with McCarthy a week before his death.
Smith pleaded not guilty to McCarthy’s murder after celebrating her 46th birthday on December 17, 2020.
McCarthy’s bloody body was not found until December 20. He was lying face up on the living room floor, loosely covered in a tarp and jumper, surrounded by broken furniture, glasses and a frying pan, the court heard.
Prosecutors allege that after the murder, a person known to Smith used McCarthy’s ATM cards and Smith herself used his Opal card to travel around Sydney.
Straffella said Tuesday that she and McCarthy used each other’s cards and exchanged PINs, but said she did not remember his PIN.
“I don’t need it,” she said, “we would use it.” [one another’s cards] when we were hungover.’
The trial continues.