Police believe they know the identity of the man who killed Port Kembla prostitute Maria Scott, whose body was dumped in isolated bushland on Mission Australia's Triple Care Farm at Robertson five years ago.
Officer-in-charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Clem Scott, yesterday told a coronial inquest into Ms Scott's death that he believed the 27-year-old Aboriginal mother of two was murdered in one of the farm's lodges where Mission Australia employee Mark Brown lived.
She was stabbed five times.
Sgt Scott said Brown left the Triple Care Farm shortly after Ms Scott disappeared from the streets of Port Kembla in late February 2003 where she worked as a prostitute.
He then travelled to Queensland.
About four months later, Brown returned to the area and committed suicide inside a car at Carrington Falls, just a few minutes drive from the scene of the murder.
Sgt Scott told Deputy State Coroner Paul MacMahon that he based his belief of Brown being the killer on traces of blood, later identified as Ms Scott's, found on the wall and floor of the lodge and the back steps which led to the area where her body was found.
Sgt Scott said police believed Brown wrapped his victim in a patchwork doona and concealed the body under a large pile of logs and debris about 50m from the lodge.
Brown was known to be a drug user and regularly used the services of Port Kembla prostitutes.
Sgt Scott said the killer would have had to have an intimate knowledge of the area and activities on the farm to choose such a site to dump a body.
As soon as she was found the focus of the police investigation switched from Port Kembla to the farm and its employees.
Ms Scott was last seen on February 28, 2003 but she wasn't discovered until seven months later when two young bushwalkers stumbled over her badly decomposed body.
An autopsy revealed she had been stabbed twice in the back and three times in the abdomen but because of the advanced state of decomposition police were unable to determine if she had received other injuries at the time of her death.
Sgt Scott said an extensive inquiry had ruled out a number of suspects, including Jason Maher, a man he described as very violent and currently on remand for murder, and Joseph Connolly, one of Ms Scott's favourite clients and a cousin of Brown.
The inquiry heard the police investigation was difficult because of Ms Scott's itinerant lifestyle.
Detective Senior Constable Frank Sanvitale told the inquiry of an experiment with the carcass of a pig, which was wrapped in a doona and placed in the exact location where Ms Scott's body was found to try and understand why no-one had detected any odour over a seven-month period.
He said no odour had been discernible because of the doona and thick pile of logs and other debris used to cover the carcass.
The detective said he had been told Brown had been under a great deal of stress after being refused a promotion at the farm and had been treated by a doctor.
He also gave evidence of Ms Scott's transient lifestyle where she "flitted from one address to another, leaving items of her clothing behind".
"She would go where the wind blew her. That's the type of person Maria was," Snr Const Sanvitale said.
Jane Healey, the barrister representing Ms Scott's mother Josephine Clark, complained to the coroner that key witnesses had not been called by police to give evidence and asked him to consider calling them.
They included Audrey Golden Brown - possibly the last person to see Ms Scott alive, Joseph Connolly, Jason Maher and Ms Scott's brother Darren, who Ms Healey said may well know the circumstances of his sister's death.
Mr MacMahon ordered Mr Connolly be located but was concerned about security arrangements should Maher be required to give evidence.
Outside the court, Josephine Clark said she did not believe that the inquest would be able to uncover the full extent of the circumstances surrounding her daughter's death.
"What I do know is that one or more other people were involved in her murder," she said.
The inquest at Albion Park Courthouse continues today.