Accused murderer Michelle Sharon Proud has taken the stand in her Supreme Court trial to reject claims she helped kill Wollongong solicitor Katie Foreman, as the Crown closed its case after more than five weeks of evidence from dozens of witnesses.
Crown prosecutor Chris Maxwell, QC, presented his final piece of evidence on Monday morning, paving the way for defence teams to call any witnesses of their own.
Lawyers for Bradley Max Rawlinson opted not to call any evidence in their case or have Rawlinson enter the witness box.
Proud, however, took the stand on Monday afternoon, telling jurors she had no idea of any plan to harm Ms Foreman when she began travelling to Wollongong on October 26, 2011, the night before Ms Foreman was killed.
During questioning from her lawyer, David Pullinger, Proud admitted she had lied to police about her knowledge of events leading up to Ms Foreman's death, saying she did so in order to protect her partner, Bernard Justin Spicer, who is accused of causing the fatal fire.
"You accept you tried to make up a story [to] keep Bernard out of it ... by lying?" Mr Pullinger asked Proud.
"Yes," she answered.
However she denied suggestions that she was involved in planning the attack.
"What did you know of the arrangement before [Ms Foreman's death]?" Proud was asked.
"I didn't know anything but what Wendy said in the car," she replied, referring to comments made by her friend and the alleged mastermind of the killing, Wendy Anne Evans, as they drove to Wollongong on the afternoon of October 26.
Proud said Evans told her she wanted Ms Foreman "messed up" so she "didn't look pretty".
Proud was then shown a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation between her and a friend, Danielle Gallagher, in which the Crown alleges she admits to instructing Spicer on how to harm Ms Foreman that night.
"All BJ [Spicer] had to do ... like I said, mess her up a bit ...," Proud told Ms Gallagher at the time.
However, when asked to explain what she meant by "like I said", Proud said she often dropped the phrase into her everyday speech but it did not mean she had made the comments. She said she was simply relaying Evans's original wording to Ms Gallagher.
"Did you act as a middleman to pass on instructions from Wendy [to Spicer]?" Mr Pullinger asked her.
"No," Proud replied, although she conceded it may seem that way.
"Were you part of any agreement to engage in any conduct which might cause Ms Foreman serious harm?" Proud was asked.
"No," she replied.
Meantime, the Crown presented its final piece of evidence, playing a recording of four phone calls that took place between Proud and a relative while Proud was behind bars awaiting trial.
In the recorded conversation, Proud told the woman not to panic.
"All my charges will get dropped because I had nothing to do with it," Proud said.
"They are trying to pin it on me when they've got nothing."
Proud also told the woman she was scared of what Evans might do to her, given what she had done to Ms Foreman.