Donna Steele murder trial jury told of key moment

 

THE second Donna Steele ripped the stocking from her alleged killer's face, her fate was sealed.

Cairns Supreme Court heard a desperate and broke Matthew Ross White hatched a plan to extort drug money from the Cooktown mother of two in 2017.

Ms Steele, 42, was a "functioning" methylamphetamine user and Mr White allegedly thought she was an easy source of drug money.

"He was broke ... the solution was money," crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said.

"The solution was to find someone he thought was connected with the drug scene and extort the higher up."

Cooktown woman Donna Louise Steele was died in 2017.
Cooktown woman Donna Louise Steele was died in 2017.

The former footy player, then 25, allegedly drove from Cairns to his Cape York home town and lay in wait under Ms Steele's bed, armed with red twine and wearing a stocking to hide his features from the woman who knew his mother.

"He wasn't unknown to Cooktown and she wasn't unknown to him," Mr Crane said yesterday.

It was Donna Steele's dogs that knew something was wrong and sniffed around the bed.

At her approach, Mr White allegedly confronted her and wrapped the twine around her neck.

"She put up more of a fight than he expected," Mr Crane said. "She pulled the stocking from his head - it was the tipping point."

The crown has alleged Mr White then wrapped a scarf around Ms Steele's neck and strangled her, waiting until she was, in the defendant's alleged words to police, "100 per cent dead".

Matthew Ross White is charged the murder of Cooktown woman Donna Louise Steele.
Matthew Ross White is charged the murder of Cooktown woman Donna Louise Steele.

Mr White has pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery with violence.

In an alleged confession to police in March 2018, Mr White said Ms Steele had "freaked him out".

"I did not want to be recognised by her," he reportedly said.

Mr Crane alleged the defendant cleaned the house with bleach and bundled up anything he might have touched.

The accused allegedly wrapped Ms Steele in a doona and, after dragging her across the yard and over a fence to his car, submerged her in the waters of the Endeavour River.

Her bloated body was found by a friend - Mark Sears - four days later.

The jury saw bodycam footage from Acting Senior Sergeant Sean Pipia of Cooktown police finding Ms Steele's body at Leggetts Crossing.

The trial continues.



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