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Accused admits to murder of Sarah Cafferkey, police tell court

21 Nov, 2012 04:05 AM
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SARAH Cafferkey sat in a sunny beer garden on the day she disappeared, casually chatting to her older, muscular companion and sipping a drink.

The publican had seen her in Bacchus Marsh's Young and Main Hotel regularly, but was less familiar with the man she was with.

They left after one drink and the publican thought little of it until Ms Cafferkey was reported missing the next morning.

By that time, police allege, she had been stabbed multiple times at a flat in Simpson Street, Bacchus Marsh.

Steven James Hunter, 47, was charged in an out-of-sessions court hearing on Tuesday night with murdering Ms Cafferkey. He appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Detective Senior Constable Damien O'Mahoney said police alleged Hunter had killed Ms Cafferkey then moved her body to a house in Fongeo Drive, Point Cook, the next day. She was found there on Saturday.

Hunter, wearing a white forensic jumpsuit because his clothes have been seized by police, did not speak during Tuesday night's hearing, except to answer yes or no to questions from bail justice Adam Trumble.

The heavy-set Hunter, of medium height, was barefoot and had peroxided blonde hair. He had a graze to his right cheekbone and the right side of his chin.

Senior Constable O'Mahoney said he had made admissions to the murder.

Hunter will face the Melbourne Magistrates Court this morning.

Earlier Tuesday, Hunter, who has been described as a self-absorbed braggart, was led down the steps of a small flat on a quiet Hawthorn East street about 12.30pm, arrested by armed police.

Hunter had been staying with an associate, one of his few friends, in the second-storey flat, which is in a brick block in Caroline Street.

Wearing a blue rugby top with a yellow collar, green cargo shorts and no shoes, he was arrested without incident. Neighbours said he looked tired but calm.

The self-described Casanova had been identified in The Age on Tuesday as a person of interest in the case, with police confirming they were searching for him as he had allegedly lived in the house where Ms Cafferkey's remains were found.

Neighbours said about 30 armed officers, some posing as tradesmen, had been involved in the operation to arrest Hunter.

Resident Bill Sklavenitis was eating lunch with his wife when he heard the street humming with police. Police had blocked a rear lane and had four-wheel-drives and motorbikes.

No shots were fired and the whole operation was over in 10 minutes, he said.

''They were just out the front with orange vests and witches' hats,'' Mr Sklavenitis said. ''He [Hunter] just looked old and tired.''

Two couches, a mattress and a vacuum cleaner were slumped on the lawn outside the white two-storey block of flats, which remained cordoned off as forensic police searched the flat where Hunter was found.

The balcony of the flat was cluttered with bonsai trees, a round metal table and mops. A horseshoe was fastened to a metal security screen at the front door, and a small ceramic lion's head adorned a nearby wall.

Neighbours said there had rarely been trouble at the flats, which they said offered government-supported rent.

In Bacchus Marsh, David Bushell, the owner of the Young and Main Hotel, said there was no sign of anything out of the ordinary between Ms Cafferkey and Hunter during their afternoon drink.

''It's just tragic for the town and the family,'' he said. ''It's just devastating. We probably know Sarah not closely but as one of our patrons. She's a nice bubbly young girl. It's really sad for the family that something like this has happened, that's for sure.''

Police warned people off posting hateful comments on social media sites as they may affect court proceedings.

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