The victim: Wollongong solicitor Katie Foreman died in a deliberately lit fire at her Corrimal home in the early hours of October 27, 2011.
The accused: Her estranged boyfriend, Bradley Max Rawlinson, and western Sydney couple Bernard Justin Spicer and Michelle Sharon Proud are on trial after earlier pleading not guilty to murdering Ms Foreman.
A fourth person, Wendy Anne Evans, has already pleaded guilty to murder.
The prosecution case: Prosecutors allege Rawlinson and Evans were having an affair and wanted Ms Foreman ‘‘gone’’ so they could be together. It is alleged they paid Spicer and Proud for Spicer to help Evans set Ms Foreman’s house on fire.
The trial: A joint trial for Rawlinson, Spicer and Proud began in Wollongong on February 4. Five days in, the jury was discharged due to a conflict of interest. The trial moved to Sydney’s Darlinghurst Courthouse, in front of a new jury, on February 18. The trial is before Justice Ian Harrison.
The charges: At the start of the trial, Rawlinson, Spicer and Proud entered not guilty pleas to the charge of murder. However, Rawlinson and Spicer entered guilty pleas to lesser charges – Rawlinson to manslaughter and Spicer to break and enter and commit a serious indictable offence, namely lighting the fire. Both pleas were rejected by the Crown.
Day 1: A jury is empaneled. Rawlinson, Spicer and Proud formally enter not guilty pleas to a charge of murder. Rawlinson and Spicer plead guilty to lesser charges which are rejected by prosecutors. The trial is expected to last six weeks. Click here for full story.
Day 2: Prosecutors allege Rawlinson and Evans were having a secret affair and agreed to pay to have Ms Foreman killed. In opening statements it is alleged Evans enlisted Spicer and Proud to help with the murder plan. Ann amateur video of the fire at Ms Foreman’s house is shown to the jury. A post-mortem examination concluded Ms Foreman had been alive and breathing for part of the fire. Click here for full story.
Day 3: A Salvation Army officer testifies Rawlinson told him he met with Evans, Spicer and Proud and organised to have Ms Foreman ‘‘scared’’ but had no idea she was going to die. A former workmate of Evans tells the court Evans and Foreman had been close but the relationship soured when Evans found out Foreman was having an affair with her ex-boyfriend Scott Field. Ms Foreman’s mother tells the court Rawlinson told her he had bought a $30,000 engagement ring for Ms Foreman before her death. A friend of Rawlinson tells the jury Rawlinson was ‘‘infatuated’’ with Ms Foreman. Click here for full story.
Day 4: Ms Foreman’s cousin denies suggestions from a defence lawyer that Evans and Ms Foreman were in a lesbian relationship. She said Rawlinson told her Ms Foreman was pregnant when she died. Ms Foreman’s friend and colleague tells jurors Ms Foreman was concerned about a series of sexually explicit emails between herself and a Wollongong police prosecutor. It is revealed Evans will not be called to give evidence. Click here for full story.
Day 5: A prostitute claims Rawlinson tried to pay her more than $2000 to ''bash'' Ms Foreman in the months before her death. She tells the court she can't go into further details about the proposition as they were never discussed. A colleague of Evans tells the court Evans was devastated after discovering Ms Foreman had allegedly slept with Evans's ex-boyfriend as well as her eldest son. Click here for full story.
Day 6: A Wollongong lawyer denies sleeping with Ms Foreman despite sending her sexually suggestive text messages. Evans' flatmate tells the court he believed Evans and Rawlinson were in a relationship. Click here for full story.
Day 7: Two Illawarra police officers tell the court they had intimate encounters with Ms Foreman in the 12 months before her death. Detective Sergeant Craig Fleuren testifies that he slept with Ms Foreman twice at her Corrimal home after they met while on opposing sides of a court case. Another policeman, Senior Constable Thackray, tells the court he exchanged sexually explicit emails and text messages with Ms Foreman between February and August 2011 after he agreed to alter police documents in court for one of her clients. He says the pair engaged in heavy petting at Port Kembla courthouse and at Wollongong Police Station but denies having sex with her. Click here for full story.
Day 8: Evans’s ex-boyfriend Scott Field tells the court Evans and Ms Foreman were in a lesbian relationship and had engaged in sexual activity together, which he had witnessed firsthand in February 2011. He adds that he and Ms Foreman also had a sexual relationship, beginning in February 2011, and that Evans was angry when she learnt about it. The jury also hears from a forensic pathologist who says Ms Foreman wasn’t pregnant when she died. Click here for full story.
Day 9: The jury hears an audio recording in which one of the accused, Michelle Proud, said Ms Foreman was supposed to end up in hospital, not dead. In the recording Proud said Evans had been having problems with Ms Foreman and wanted to pay someone to ‘‘do something about it’’. Click here for full story.
Day 10: Ms Foreman’s father tells the court he took an instant dislike to Evans and asked his daughter to stay away from her. Neil Foreman says Ms Foreman told him prior to her death she believed someone was tampering with the fuel in her car, and that on at least one occasion she had a prowler at her house. Click here for full story.
Day 11: Jurors hear claims that Katie Foreman sexually assaulted Wendy Evans and threatened to kill members of her family before she died. In a taped phone call, co-accused Michelle Proud is heard to say: ‘‘She [Ms Foreman] raped Wendy with a stick when she was knocked out ...’’ The court also hears evidence from a police crime scene analyst who says there were indications of an accelerant at the fire scene. Click here for full story.
Day 12: Police crime scene officer Detective Senior Constable Suzanne Sutherland tells the court that a sock and the remnants of a top removed from Katie Foreman’s burned body the night she died both contained traces of the accelerant used to start the fire that killed her. She says the discovery, along with the nature of the burns to the body, had led her to conclude Ms Foreman had been inside the bedroom of her home when the fire was lit. Click here for full story.
Day 13: Fire and Rescue NSW officer and canine handler Phillip Etienne tells the court his trained accelerant detection dog Sheeba repeatedly took him the the head of Ms Foreman’s bed when she was deployed into the master bedroom to search for the presence of accelerants just hours after the fire. He says Sheeba was also deployed three times to sniff for accelerants on Ms Foreman’s body but did not find any. Click here for full story.
Day 14: Forensic biologist Sienna Collins tells the court Ms Foreman had sex with her estranged boyfriend, Bradley Max Rawlinson, less than three days before he paid to have her killed. Ms Collins says a semen swab taken from Ms Foreman just hours after she perished in the blaze matched Rawlinson’s DNA profile. Jurors are also shown footage of the charred remains of Ms Foreman’s home during a 35-minute ‘‘walk through’’ video which lays bare the extensive damage caused by the fire itself. Click here for full story.
Day 15: In a DVD recording of a police interview played to the jury, Bernard Spicer at first denies, then admits to his involvement in setting fire to Ms Foreman’s home. Spicer tells police he threw a bucket of petrol into a ‘‘pitch black’’ room and Wendy Evans threw a fire lighter after it, causing a loud explosion. He claims he was unaware anyone was at home, saying Evans told him Ms Foreman would be away that night. ‘‘She’s f---ed me over for life,’’ he tells police. Click here for full story.
Day 16: Jurors are taken to the house in Doncaster Street, Corrimal where Ms Foreman perished. They are taken to key spots inside the house, including the bedroom where the fire originated, and the landing area where Ms Foreman’s burnt body was located. They also visit multiple sites outside the house and along Doncaster Street itself. Click here for full story.
Day 16: The mechanic responsible for servicing Ms Foreman’s car discovered large amounts of water in the vehicle’s petrol tank twice in the year before she died, the court hears. Jason Reid provided statements to police saying he removed ‘‘about two to four litres’’ of water from the fuel system each time when Ms Foreman brought the car to him twice in less than six months with the complaint it had been ‘‘playing up’’. ‘‘For it to happen twice in such a short time frame is very uncommon,’’ he says. Click here for full story.
Day 17: The trial is told that Rawlinson penned a heartfelt letter to his parents apologising for bringing shame on the family following his arrest on murder charges. ‘‘I know it’s embarrassing for you and I’m sorry,’’ reads the letter, which is tendered in court. Also tendered are letters Spicer wrote to Proud, one of which reads: ‘‘I need to know what you told the cops about that night cause if you told them that we knew she [Ms Foreman] was home, we are f---ed.’’ Click here for full story.
DAY 18: The jury is told Bradley Rawlinson sent Katie Foreman love-filled text messages saying he wanted to start a family together at the same time he was telling his secret lover Wendy Evans that he wanted Ms Foreman ‘‘gone’’ from his life. In several text message exchanges in the two months before Ms Foreman’s death, Rawlinson repeatedly confessed his love to Evans, his frustration at being with Ms Foreman and his desire to see her ‘‘gone’’. Meantime, Rawlinson wrote to Ms Foreman: ‘‘I love you babe forever, I want to marry you and have a family in our house together.’’ Click here for full story.
DAY 19: The court hears that Rawlinson and Evans lied to police about their communication with each other in the months before Ms Foreman was killed. The pair denied during police interviews that there was any contact between them in the months prior to Ms Foreman’s death, however a series of text messages shows they were in contact almost daily. Evans also told police during her interview that she was not involved in lighting the house fire that claimed Ms Foreman's life, instead telling them she had gone to bed about 1.30am - an hour before the fire started. ‘‘I don't know anybody that could do something like this, or would do something like this,’’ she said at the time. Click here for full story.
Day 20: The jury hears police secretly recorded Evans, Proud and Spicer talking about what they would tell police should they be asked about their movements on October 26 and October 27 when Ms Foreman was killed. Evans and Proud agreed to tell police Proud had come to Wollongong with her children for a holiday, and Spicer had stayed in Whalan. Spicer endorsed the plan saying he would need to ‘‘find an alibi’’ who could tell police he had been in western Sydney at the time of Ms Foreman’s death.Click here for full story.
Day 21: Rawlinson told police he only wanted Ms Foreman ‘‘scared’’ on the night she died after she had repeatedly threatened him, the court hears. During an interview at the time of his arrest Rawlinson said Ms Foreman had made threats to harm him throughout the 4 years they were together. When asked why he had stayed in the relationship, Rawlinson replied: ‘‘Because I loved her.’’ Click here for full story.
Day 22: A video is played to the court showing Proud crying after revelations that police had been secretly recording her telephone calls and text messages the whole time that she and others had been crafting a false story. Proud then said that Evans had called saying she wanted Spicer to ‘‘organise to have something done’’ to Ms Foreman, before asking if Spicer could do it himself. ‘‘All they were supposed to do was make a little fire and, um, all BJ [Spicer] did was put a bit of fuel [in the room] and Wendy lit the thing and threw it in [the room] and they walked down the stairs and then... it blew up,’’ she said. Click here for full story.
Day 23: Murder accused Michelle Proud takes the stand and says she had no idea of any plan to harm Ms Foreman when she began travelling to Wollongong on October 26, 2011. Proud admits she lied to police about her knowledge of events leading up to the fatal fire but denies suggestions she was involved in planning the attack. Click here for the full story.
DAY 24: Proud continues to give evidence in her defence.
DAY 25: The jury is told they will no longer be required to determine the case against Bernard Spicer, after a legal issue arose in the proceedings. Spicer will now be tried at a later date. Meantime, jurors are told they will continue to hear the case against fellow murder accused Michelle Proud and Bradley Rawlinson. Click here for full story
DAY 26: The Crown starts his closing address. Crown prosecutor Chris Maxwell, QC, told the jury evidence presented during the five-week Crown case clearly showed Rawlinson had "a great deal of enmity" towards Ms Foreman in the months before she died, and this was the "genesis" for her murder. Click here for full story.
DAY 27: The Crown's closing address continues. The jury is told if they carefully examined all the evidence before them, they would conclude that Rawlinson had told multiple lies in order to paint himself as Ms Foreman's caring, dedicated partner, when he had actually been plotting her demise.Click here for full story.
DAY 28: Proud’s lawyer tells the jury she behaved very badly, even callously, but there was no evidence to say she was ‘‘a player in a team’’ that set out to do harm to Ms Foreman. He says Proud is innocent of the charges levelled against her. Meantime, Crown prosecutor Chris Maxwell describes evidence given by Proud in the witness box last week as ‘‘far fetched’’ and urges jurors to reject it. Click here for full story.
DAY 29: Michelle Proud's lawyer tells the jury that Proud may have been many things, but she was not a killer. He said evidence showed Proud ad tried to divert police attention away from the trio by creating a false story, but said she had done it out of a "misguided" sense of loyalty to Spicer and Evans. Click here for full story.
DAY 30: Barrister Winston Terracini, SC, argues that Evans’s vitriolic hatred of Ms Foreman, whom she discovered had been sleeping with her former boyfriend Scott Field, had prompted her to manipulate her three co-accused into helping her organise and carry out Ms Foreman’s murder. He says Evans was the only person with a clear motive for wanting Ms Foreman slain while his client, Bradley Max Rawlinson, was simply a pawn in Evans’s own plans to kill. Click here for full story.
Day 31: Jurors are told they must not use Bradley Max Rawlinson's decision not to give evidence against him when determining his guilt or innocence. Justice Harrison told jurors not to speculate on what Rawlinson may have said had he taken the stand. Click here for full story.
Day 33: The jury in the Katie Foreman murder trial has retires to consider its verdict. Jurors were told to consider whether Rawlinson and Proud are guilty or innocent of the murder of Ms Foreman. They will also consider the alternative charge of manslaughter. Click here for full story.
Day 34: Bradley Max Rawlinson and Michelle Sharon Proud are found guilty of the murder of Wollongong lawyer Katie Foreman. Outside the court, Ms Foreman's father, Neil, said "I'm pleased." Click here for full story.