The distraught and broken mother of a woman who was brutally murdered by one of the people she trusted most may never know the details of her daughter's 'tragic' and 'pointless' death.
The man who murdered Ballarat bus driver Tamara Farrell says he cannot remember how he killed his family friend after a night of drinking and games.
Shaye Kotiau later told his girlfriend killing the woman he grew up with, chiselling out her teeth and burning her body on the side of a rural road was 'like a dream'.
While the reasons for Ms Farrell's murder remain unknown, what is certain is the 31-year-old 'amazing', 'adventurous' and 'independent' woman was 'brutally' killed in the bedroom of her home while 'defenceless' and 'vulnerable'.
Kotiau, 23, appeared at the Supreme Court of Victoria via video link from prison for a plea hearing on Wednesday.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke told the court Kotiau and his younger sister Kieahn visited Ms Farrell's Canadian home on Saturday February 16, 2019, for a night of games and drinking with her and housemate Russell.
The group played drinking games for six hours until they went to bed at 6am.
Ms Farrell took a bucket and three bottles of water to the front bedroom of the house where Kotiau and his sister were staying to assist Kotiau because he was feeling sick
The court heard Kieahn fell asleep and Kotiau went into Ms Farrell's bedroom and murdered her.
Mr Bourke said the circumstances and the manner of the murder remained unknown as the only comment Kotiau made in reference to the killing was describing it as 'brutal' to his girlfriend.
Ms Farrell's housemate left the house to collect his son and Kieahn woke up at 12.30pm.
Kotiau told his sister 'I am going to tell you something that will change our lives forever' and showed her Ms Farrell's body lying on the floor of her bathroom.
The court heard Kieahn noticed Ms Farrell's face was dark on one side, like it was bruised and Kotiau said 'we are getting rid of it', in reference to Ms Farrell's body.
Kotiau ordered his sister to reverse her car into the garage and he put Ms Farrell's body on a tarp in the boot.
Kotiau told his sister to drive the car towards their family home in Altona and they stopped at a service station on the way where he filled a container with petrol.
He packed a bag with clothing and collected a hammer and chisel from the family home before leaving at 6.50pm on Sunday.
Kieahn drove the car around Melbourne while Kotiau was asleep and when he woke he said he wanted to find a 'perfect place, a place that was dark' to dispose of Ms Farrell's body.
The siblings arrived at Nambrok, near Sale, in the early hours of Monday morning.
The court heard Kotiau removed Ms Farrell's body from the car, carried her over the fence of a property and placed her on the ground in a small clearing between trees.
He told Keiahn to drive up and down the street to check no one was around and when she returned she saw him swinging a hammer into a chisel on Ms Farrell's face.
Kotiau removed Ms Farrell's upper teeth and mandible bone, poured petrol over her body and set her alight.
The siblings watched Ms Farrell's body burn for 20 minutes and her body was still alight when they left.
They changed clothes at Yarragon and dumped items from Ms Farrell's home under a railway bridge in Altona, before they returned to the family home at 6.45am.
Kieahn went to work and Kotiau remained home on Monday. Meanwhile, Ms Farrell's employer visited her Canadian house, concerned she had not turned up to work.
Ms Farrell's mother Nelly, who had been friends with Kotiau's mother since they were 11-years-old, called the Kotiau home asking if they knew where her daughter was.
Kotiau said he had not seen Ms Farrell, but when Kotiau's girlfriend arrived at the house on Monday afternoon he said:
I have done something I can't reverse, something unforgivable.
He told his girlfriend: 'she is dead', 'I thought it was a dream' and 'it was brutal'.
When Kotiau's uncle asked if he had done something to Ms Farrell, Kotiau said 'you'll find out, you already know' and that 'he was f**ked'.
An autopsy revealed the cause of Ms Farrell's death was blunt trauma to the head.
The court heard she had two fractures to the skull, indicative of force from an object.
Mr Bourke said the burning of Ms Farrell's body made it 'impossible to ascertain if sexual assault had occurred'.
Four victim impact statements were submitted to the court from Ms Farrell's mother, sister, friend and housemate.
Ms Farrell's mother Nelly said the pain of losing a child was 'utterly indescribable'.
"No words can ever relate the horror and gut wrenching loss that smashes into your soul," she said.
"The people responsible were the last people I would expect to ever hurt her. We were like a family, the children grew up doing everything together.
"How do you process your child being killed by someone you have known their whole life?"
RELATED COVERAGE: Grieving mother shares her pain after losing her daughter
Nelly said she had lost her daughter, lost her closest friends and suffered seeing her children struggle with the loss of their sister every day.
"We couldn't have an open casket at her funeral... even seeing her, touching her one last time was taken away," she said.
"Every cell in my body aches... we live in the middle of a nightmare that is never-ending.
"I struggle daily to make sense of something that makes no sense."
The court heard Ms Farrell's grandfather died five weeks after being told the news of her murder.
IN OTHER NEWS
Ms Farrell's sister read her victim impact statement to the court, describing her constant anxiety and night terrors.
"I wish for peace someday soon. I don't want to be anxious for the rest of my life," she said.
Defence barrister Jarrod Williams conceded Kotiau's offending was 'grave and tragic'.
"The death of Ms Farrell was a pointless one. It is unnecessary and is dreadfully hard to understand given she was killed by a close family friend," he said.
In his defence submissions, Mr Williams said Kotiau's plea of guilty demonstrated he admitted he killed Ms Farrell and his actions were conscious and voluntary, despite being in a state of 'extreme intoxication'.
"He has no recollection of the actual killing... The precise circumstances of how he killed Ms Farrell and why he killed her will never be known," he said.
Justice Paul Coghlan questioned the claim Kotiau had no memory of the killing.
"His expression 'like in a dream'... Dreams have substance. That is different from someone who says I don't know what happened," he said.
Kotiau said he was intoxicated, woke up to the horrific scene, knew he was responsible for it, then seemed to go into a state where he was intent on making sure he was not found responsible, Mr Williams said.
"There are many ways that can be done without the unbridled brutality in this case," Justice Coghlan responded.
Mr Williams said it was conceded the disposal of Ms Farrell's body increased the seriousness of offending.
"In our submission, there is not sufficient evidence for the inference to be drawn that he does have a recollection and he is lying about the true state of affairs," he said.
Justice Coghlan said even if he did come to the conclusion Kotiau was lying about his lack of memory, this could only be used to determine the level of remorse and would not be considered an aggravating feature of his offending.
"It seems to me the post-offence conduct shows an animosity towards the deceased," he said.
"It can't simply be explained this is done to keep her from being identified."
Mr Williams said there was no evidence of any pre-existing animosity and any conclusion on animosity would be speculation.
He said Kotiau was suffering a major depressive disorder, but there was no evidence he suffered the disorder at the time.
Justice Coghlan noted there was no material before the court to show Kotiau was psychotic at the time of the murder.
In addressing Kotiau's background, Mr Williams said Kotiau had experienced violence as a young child in the home at the hands of his father, who was imprisoned for that violence.
The court heard Kotiau had a limited prior criminal history.
Justice Coghlan rejected Mr William's submission the murder was a mid-range offence and said he placed it high in the range of seriousness.
In prosecution submissions, Mr Bourke agreed the offence was of a high level of seriousness.
"Ms Farrell was in her own home, in her own bedroom which she had retired to for the night," he said.
"The accused entered her bedroom... it was likely Ms Farrell was in bed and it is probable this killing took place when she was naked.
"She was vulnerable to this physical attack by a man who was trusted by her."
Mr Bourke said there must be some explanation to the murder, although none had been revealed.
"The other element of seriousness is the post-offence conduct was systematic and calculated over a long period of time," he said.
"The removal of her teeth and jawbone with a hammer and chisel and the burning of her body... shows a complete and utter disregard for Ms Farrell as a person."
Mr Bourke submitted there was no 'insightful, heartful or continuing' expression of remorse.
Kotiau has spent 499 days in pre-sentence detention.
Justice Coghlan will hand down his sentence on July 9.
Kieahn pleaded guilty to concealing Ms Farrell's body, assisting in the disposal of the body and assisting in hiding evidentiary items.
She was sentenced to a 12-month community corrections order in May.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.