Boyfriend tells of call before Stuttle killing

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The Independent Online

The boyfriend of the murdered backpacker Caroline Stuttle described how the couple chatted happily on the phone just moments before her death.

The boyfriend of the murdered backpacker Caroline Stuttle described how the couple chatted happily on the phone just moments before her death.

Speaking on the second day of the trial, Ian Nelson, 27, told the Supreme Court in Bundaberg, Queensland, that Ms Stuttle had telephoned him at home in York from a public phone box at the local post office and they talked for more than an hour. She told him she had found a job picking tomatoes and promised to stay in touch as she travelled around Australia.

"We talked about what she had been doing... her mood was fine," said Mr Nelson, a bank worker who had been going out with Ms Stuttle for two years at the time of her death.

Senior Constable Brian Cook told the court how he found Ms Stuttle's body under the bridge in Bundaberg shortly before midnight on 10 April 2002.

"There was a black... bag strap next to the body, but no bag," he said. The bag was found in a sugar cane field months later. Forensic tests found her DNA on the bag and DNA traces from a man, but the trace was not good enough to use it to identify a suspect.

It is alleged that the 19-year-old gap-year student was killed and robbed by Ian Douglas Previte, a drug addict, who was seeking money to buy drugs. He denies the charges and faces a life sentence if convicted.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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