Woman’s body left in bathtub for months
A man accused of murdering his ex-partner allegedly spent about six days living in her Melbourne unit months afterwards with the body still decomposing upstairs, a court has heard.
Police say Sarah Gatt was murdered in April 2017 by Andrew Baker, 52, who allegedly committed family violence against her during their relationship and is accused of continuing to receive her Centrelink payments into his bank account after her death.
Ms Gatt's body was not found by police for over eight months.
In the meantime it is alleged Mr Baker, who is of no fixed address, turned the power to the unit back on and lived there with three associates from about August 10 to August 16.
The body had already been in the bathtub of the Kensington home where it was found for a little under four months when Mr Baker and his associates were there, it is alleged.
The court heard none of the people who spent time in the unit between the murder and police discovery reported the body to authorities.
Mr Baker walked out midway through his bail application where he was appearing over audiovisual link in Victoria's Supreme Court on Thursday, saying, "I'm not putting up with this s**t anymore mate, see you later."
He also interrupted proceedings to say "bulls**t" at one point on Thursday before his decision to walk out.
It is alleged Mr Baker and Ms Gatt were in a relationship for three to four years, but she began a same-sex relationship a woman about a year before the murder.
Police say Mr Baker gave Ms Gatt an ultimatum - "it's me or her" - and told them he was "pissed off" because "I love this lady" when she chose the other woman.
Detective Senior Constable Steven Eppingstall said Ms Gatt had told police about two years before she died she couldn't sleep at night because she was scared Mr Baker would kill her.
"He said 'If he can't have me, no one can', and he's capable of doing it," Ms Gatt told police, according to Sen Const Eppingstall.
In another incident Mr Baker said to her "If we don't work it out tomorrow, when they come round here they'll find a murder-suicide", prosecutor Pat Bourke alleged.
It's alleged Ms Gatt received Centrelink payments but they went directly into Mr Baker's account, of which he had the only connected bank card, and the court heard he would withdraw the entirety of each payment in cash within hours of it being made.
He is accused of continuing to receive Ms Gatt's Centrelink payments after the relationship ended and continuing to receive them after he allegedly murdered her.
Police say Mr Baker had called or texted Ms Gatt 155 times leading up to her alleged murder but then abruptly stopped after her death.
Mr Eppingstall said Mr Baker told police Ms Gatt was in the psychiatric ward of the Royal Melbourne Hospital but investigations revealed this was not true.
Mr Eppingstall alleged the accused murderer had a "deception plan" that included a friend sending him text messages pretending to be Ms Gatt, to which he would reply, and him sending a letter to her house that said he had figured out she had put a body in the bathtub dressed in her clothes.
Mr Baker told people he worked as a tattoo artist but police could not find any record of employment except for a brief period in 1995, Mr Eppingstall said.
He also lied to police about having cancer, it is alleged.
His defence counsel Sarah Thomas said pathologists couldn't say how Ms Gatt's death was caused, or if there was any trauma around the time of the death, and that it could have been from a drug overdose or natural causes.
Mr Baker's application for bail was refused by Justice Paul Coghlan.
Originally published as Woman's body left in bathtub for months