Bernard Spicer confessed to playing a role in the October 2011 killing of Wollongong solicitor Katie Foreman after learning his de facto partner and fellow murder accused, Michelle Proud, had divulged information to police, a court has heard.
Spicer began an hour-long interview with police in December 2011 by denying any knowledge of the events that took place on October 27 - the night Ms Foreman died in a deliberately lit fire at her Corrimal home.
But less than 10 minutes into questioning, Spicer's story quickly unravelled when police revealed they had placed a listening device inside his western Sydney home and had been secretly recording his telephone conversations, as well as those of Proud and co-accused Wendy Evans.
Officers told Spicer the evidence collected from the mobile phones and household conversations had been shown to Proud in an interview earlier the same day, prompting her to divulge "certain information" about the couple's reason for travelling to Wollongong the afternoon before Ms Foreman's death, Spicer's movements from the couple's motel room that night, and his association with Evans.
The news evoked a swift about-face from Spicer, who confessed to being involved in Ms Foreman's death but maintained he had never intended to kill anyone.
In the police interview, a DVD recording of which was played to a NSW Supreme Court jury on Tuesday, Spicer told officers Evans had called him saying she'd "had enough" of Ms Foreman.
She claimed the deceased woman threatened members of her family, and said she wanted to retaliate by setting her car on fire.
He said Evans and Ms Foreman's estranged boyfriend, Bradley Max Rawlinson, agreed to pay him $3000 to light the fire, and assured him the house would be empty, saying they just wanted to "scare the shit out of her".
Spicer said when he purchased petrol with Evans from a service station beforehand, he believed it was intended to be thrown over Ms Foreman's car.
However, he said when they arrived at the house Evans told him they would be setting fire to an upstairs room instead, because it contained a mobile phone that had images of Evans being sexually assaulted.
The court heard the pair let themselves inside the house using keys and crept up the staircase. Spicer said he threw a bucket of petrol into a "pitch black" room and Evans threw a fire lighter after it, causing a loud explosion.
Spicer said he immediately ran out of the house, followed by Evans, and the pair returned to their car and left the scene.
When asked if he was aware of anyone being at Ms Foreman's home that night, he replied "Nope", saying Evans had sworn to him the young lawyer would be away from the house all night.
He said he learnt of her death in the blaze the following day.
"... we seen [the death] on the news the next day and mate, my jaw hit the ground and so did Michelle's," Spicer told officers.
He said he believed Evans knew Ms Foreman was in the house.
"She's f---ed me over for life," he said. The trial continues.