Officers first on the scene at the home of a Christchurch man allegedly stabbed to death and buried in his own compost heap by his partner have described finding blood stains and remnants of cleaning products inside the house.
Shortly after Rena Joyce walked into a city police station to "confess" that she had "snapped" and "manslaughtered" Martin Berry officers were sent to his home.
There they found Berry dead and buried in a "vegetation mound" in the backyard under several centimetres of rotting food and leaves.
When they entered the house they found lights on, BBC World News playing on a television and bloodstains in various places including the living room where Joyce said she "snapped" and killed him.
Police noted blood stains on surfaces and furniture in the house.
They found very few of Berry's personal items - mainly shoes remained - and evidence of what they allege was an attempt to clean up a crime scene.
Joyce, 56, is on trial in the High Court at Christchurch for allegedly murdering Berry at his Main North Rd, Papanui home in December 2020.
She allegedly stabbed her partner of five years repeatedly in the neck and back and cut his throat - only stopping the attack when the knife blade became lodged in his spine.
She then dragged his body and hid it in the compost mound.
Police allege Joyce then cleaned the scene - dumping most of Berry's personal effects in various rubbish bins - and moved out.
Two weeks later she walked into the Christchurch Central Police Station and told officers she had "manslaughtered" Berry and buried him.
She said she "snapped" during an argument and once she started stabbing him, she could not stop.
Joyce admits to killing Berry but has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder.
She claims the death was accidental and there was no murderous intent.
Her trial before Justice Jonathan Eaton and a jury started yesterday.
The court heard that in the years leading up to the fatal attack Berry had been assaulted by Joyce multiple times.
He spoke to family and friends about the abusive relationship, saying he feared for his safety but was too ashamed to seek help.
At the time of his death, Berry had a protection order in place against Joyce.
Later this week the jury will hear from family and friends of both the alleged victim and accused killer about their tumultuous relationship.
They will also hear from others who had dealings with Joyce and Berry and knew of her abuse and his fears.
This morning Detective Constable Michael Hawke - one of two officers who found Berry's decomposing body - told the jury about the initial hours of the investigation.
After Berry's body had been removed from the scene Hawke went to a property where Joyce had been staying and seized a number of shopping and rubbish bags full of items.
Among those items was a bloodstained duvet.
Earlier today the jury heard evidence from Constable Fraser Woon who was also present when Berry's remains were found.
Woon explained how Berry's body was found in a "mound of vegetation… that appeared to be a compost heap".
He then spoke about searching Berry's house for evidence related to the alleged murder.
Most of Berry's personal belongings were gone from the house and the furniture and items that remained were sparse.
Police discovered blood in the living room and items used in the clean up following the slaying including the remnants of cleaning products and gloves.
The trial continues.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - DO YOU NEED HELP?
If you're in danger now:
- Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay
Where to go for help or more information:
- Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz