THE man accused of murdering his Wangaratta parents first strangled his mother before lying in wait for his father’s return home, a court has heard.
What is claimed to be the final moments of Bill and Pauline Thomas’ lives were laid bare in Wangaratta Magistrates Court yesterday.
The couple’s son, Ian David Thomas, 36, has been accused of killing them on Sunday, April 21 last year.
He was arrested several days later at his former lover Jacinta Emselle’s property in Meredith, in south-west Victoria.
Mrs Emselle, 46, continued her evidence at Thomas’ committal hearing yesterday, telling the court he confessed to the brutal double murder on April 22 when he asked to meet her at Geelong’s Cremorne Hotel.
Thomas had recently moved from Perth back to his parents’ Great Alpine Road, Wangaratta home to restart his life, Mrs Emselle said.
He told her he’d been in the shed when his mother came still nagging him about “a $20 hairdryer” he was using to work on his van.
“I remember Ian saying something like ‘I’m going to end up killing mum over a $19.95 hairdryer’ two or three days before the murders,” she told police in a statement.
Mrs Emselle — who had been having an affair with Thomas for several years — told the court Thomas said he strangled his mother with his bare hands.
He took her body back inside the main house, where he turned on the water in the bathroom to make it sound like Mrs Thomas was having a shower.
Thomas then waited in the bathroom with a shotgun for his father to arrive home, she said.
“He shot him in the stomach ... he said his father’s reaction was this,” she said, gesturing wildly with her arms in the air.
The court was previously told by a forensic pathologist that Mr Thomas, 64, had gunshot wounds to his chest, and shotgun pellet in his hand indicated he may have held a hand up in a defensive motion.
Post-mortems also showed Mrs Thomas, 63, was likely strangled with an object like a cable tie, not manually.
In her statement to police, Mrs Emselle said Thomas then got his mother’s body and “put them both together in one room lying side by side”.
“I think, from memory, he wrapped them in a sheet,” her statement read.
“I was freaking out by this stage, thinking I was with a psychopath and wondering what I was going to do.”
She agreed to driving Thomas out to her family’s 40-acre property in Meredith, 35 minutes from Geelong, where he camped the night.
Mrs Emselle returned to her family’s rental property in Geelong — where they often stayed during the week — that night, but returned to Thomas the next day and let him lead her on a long drive into bushland outside Ballarat, called Snake Valley, where he buried a bag of evidence.
Thomas, who has been stoic throughout proceedings, betrayed a flicker of surprise when Mrs Emselle said he had commented “Don’t tell me I’m going to have to kill someone else” when he heard a rustle in the bushes.
“He showed me the pick axe handle that was covered in blood and said ‘Have a look at this’,” she said.
Defence barrister John Desmond argued this was at odds with her police statement, which said she only glimpsed items in a bag.
“It’s nothing like you are now saying,” Mr Desmond said.
“It’s the same thing to me,” Mrs Emselle said.
Mr Desmond accused her of lying and embellishing her evidence, and questioned her credibility, given previous lies she had told police.
Mrs Emselle made two statements to police before coming forward with the confession last July.
In her earlier statements, she denied the pair had had a sexual relationship and described Thomas as “beautifully mannered, kind and generous”.
The hearing resumes on July 16.