NSW south coast stabber guilty of murder

Wollongong Courthouse signage (file image)
A jury has taken just over an hour to find Petero Baleinapuka guilty of murdering his girlfriend. -AAP Image

A jury has taken just over an hour to convict a man of the "ferocious" murder of his girlfriend on New Year's Eve on the NSW south coast. 

Petero Baleinapuka, 58, denied stabbing his recent partner Angela O'Donnell, 53, at least 14 times in her Woonona apartment on December 31, 2019.

He told his Wollongong Supreme Court trial that he lied to police when he admitted to them: "I killed her, I didn't mean to hurt her, I loved her".

He blamed an unknown intruder after claiming to have stumbled upon Ms O'Donnell telling him to "leave her to die," so he hugged her then ran away in shock.

But the jury rejected his story on Thursday and returned its unanimous guilty verdict before Justice Desmond Fagan. 

His partner's final cries "Petero, Petero, look at me ... oh my god" were captured at about 10.38pm on CCTV footage outside her apartment.

Ms O'Donnell had been communicating with family and friends that day up until her final message to her brother at about 10.14pm.

"Yay Woonona," she responded to photographs of their time together in her local area.

It is unclear what later prompted the vicious attack, with the Crown dismissing Baleinapuka's claims she had slapped him and thrown a Christmas ornament at his face.

Using a kitchen knife from a woodblock, Baleinapuka stabbed the woman he later claimed to love, in her face, chest, back and stomach. 

"With all that ferocious stabbing motion and all that blood, the knife might have slipped and cut his hand," Prosecutor David Scully said. 

While Ms O'Donnell lay bleeding out on the floor, he was "worrying about himself," patching up his injuries in three different locations across the house.

His trail of blood also led to the fridge and to several beer bottles of beer he drank and left strewn in the garden. 

After stealing her bank card he sped off in her BMW hours later, but highway patrol officers quickly spotted the drunk and erratic driver.

He fled from arresting officers but soon crashed into a bridge and made his surprising confessions to murder. 

"Why did she make me do that?" he said in between "wails". 

Five police officers told the court they heard similar statements.

In a subsequent police interview, Baleinapuka described the knife he used and the location near French doors where blood was found.

But in court Baleinapuka denied this was the truth, and said he moved the body to "lay her to rest".

Mr Scully said this was conveniently woven in with him saying he touched the knives - for no good reason - to explain his extensive forensic trail. 

Baleinapuka and Ms O'Donnell had met in October, and had only been living together in her apartment for one month before her death.

The couple's movements on the day leading up to the murder were "unremarkable," and her family had never been told of any physical violence between them before. 

Justice Fagan in discussing his sentencing said evidence had led him to believe "he's a very dangerous man".

Baleinapuka is due next in court for a sentence hearing on April 22. 

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