Karaoke fan killed for $50

THE ex-boyfriend of a popular Raymond Terrace woman has pleaded guilty to her chilling murder, keeping her lifeless body under his bed before dumping her body in the boot of his abandoned car.

Marcus John Lee, 31, of Laurel Avenue, Edgeworth, pleaded guilty via audio visual link in Newcastle Local Court yesterday where a brief of evidence was tendered, including a transcript of his interview with police.

Lee pleaded guilty to murdering popular karaoke singer Trisha Cobeanou saying he "knocked her off" because of an alleged cash debt of $50, later stashing her body in the boot of his car.

Lee was out drinking with 27-year-old Ms Cobeanou at the Hamilton Station Hotel on April 16 when they decided to go back to his place, a small shed at a wreckers' yard in Islington.

He lost count of how many drinks he had that night but he could still walk, he told police.

Back at his place, he asked Ms Cobeanou about money she owed him and reached for her handbag to retrieve her wallet when he was struck over the head, he said.

The next thing he remembered was waking up to find her lifeless body on the floor next to his bed with a garbage bag over her head, secured by silver duct tape wound around her neck.

"Trisha Cobeanou was deceased on me (sic) floor . . ." Lee told police.

"At that stage, with me being in a panic, not thinking clearly, I bagged up the body with duct tape and garbage bags, had it underneath the bed for that day until it was night time, and I put it in the boot of my (car)."

He later said he had "a problem".

"If I do get hit in the head, I blank out, and I have a loss of memory . . . yeah, that's basically it," he said.

"When I got hit in the head, I think that was just the final straw me body could take. I just snapped and went to a different personality."

Lee left Ms Cobeanou's body in the boot of his car outside the wrecker's yard for one week before deciding to dump her body in nearby bushland, court documents reveal.

He got into his car about 7pm on April 24 and was driving along Newcastle Road when he noticed his car was having mechanical issues and he had to pull over, making it only as far as Lambton.

He parked his car there and left it, with Ms Cobeanou's body still in the boot.

He later reported his car stolen.

Two weeks later he phoned his brother and told him he had "knocked someone off" and put them into the boot of his car over a money dispute, and that he must have strangled her.

He handed himself in to police on May 9. A post-mortem revealed the cause of death to be strangulation.

When asked how much money he thought he was owed, Lee said $50 from the last time he lent Ms Cobeanou money, but that she owed him more.

"Over a couple of thousand dollars, mate," he said.

At the time of her death, friends described Ms Cobeanou as "a beautiful soul" who regularly entertained the Hamilton Station Hotel crowd with her favourite song, I Will Survive.

"She looked after people and cared for other people more than herself," one said. "She was just a lovely woman who would never hurt anyone and it is just devastating."

The matter was adjourned to the Supreme Court for sentence in July.

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