Bradley Max Rawlinson and Michelle Sharon Proud have been found guilty of murdering Wollongong solicitor Katie Foreman.
The pair was convicted of Ms Foreman’s 2011 murder just after lunch on Friday, less than 24 hours after the jury retired to consider its verdicts following a marathon two-month trial.
Ms Foreman perished when a deliberately lit blaze tore through the master bedroom of her Corrimal home in the early hours of October 27.
Rawlinson and Proud showed no emotion as the jury read out the verdicts.
Outside the court, Ms Foreman’s father, Neil, said ‘‘I’m pleased’’ but declined to comment further.
Almost 80 witnesses gave evidence in the case, helping to convince jurors that Rawlinson, Ms Foreman’s boyfriend, played a vital role in killing his estranged partner.
The Crown claimed Rawlinson was having a secret affair with Ms Foreman’s one-time friend, Wendy Anne Evans, and the pair colluded to kill Ms Foreman.
To support the case against Rawlinson, Crown prosecutor Chris Maxwell, QC, produced page after page of text message exchanges between Rawlinson and Evans that he said demonstrated the intimacy of their relationship, and the shared ‘‘ill-will’’ they felt towards Ms Foreman.
It was alleged Evans, already furious at Ms Foreman for sleeping with her ex-boyfriend and out for revenge, hired Proud and her defacto partner, Bernard Justin Spicer, to help carry out the crime.
Evans pleaded guilty to a charge of murder last year after preliminary court proceedings, but is yet to agree to the factual circumstances regarding her role in the crime.
The court heard Evans and Spicer went to Ms Foreman’s house and lit the fire that claimed her life. However, the four individuals were each charged with Ms Foreman’s murder stemming from the allegation that they were part of a joint agreement – referred to as a ‘‘joint criminal enterprise’’ – to seriously harm or kill the 31-year-old.
Rawlinson, Proud and Spicer pleaded not guilty to murder, and a plea of guilty to manslaughter by Rawlinson was rejected by the Crown.
Rawlinson’s lawyers had argued that their client only wanted Ms Foreman ‘‘scared’’ that evening, not dead, and had no knowledge that she would be killed.
However, jurors ultimately failed to believe Rawlinson’s claims, instead finding that he had paid money to Proud and Spicer to have Ms Foreman killed, or at the very least, seriously injured that night.
Jurors also rejected Proud’s version of events, in which she also claimed to have no knowledge of what was in store for Ms Foreman when she and Spicer travelled to Wollongong the night of the fire.
In finding Proud guilty of murder, jury members were ultimately convinced by the Crown’s suggestion that she had played an active part in the plan to seriously hurt Ms Foreman.
Rawlinson and Proud will return to court later this month when a date will be set for their sentencing.
Midway through the joint trial, Spicer was granted the right to a separate trial after a legal issue arose in his case.