Accused killer waves and laughs in court
THE man accused of killing new mother Kristie Powell in her Wollongong home, this morning smiled, laughed and waved during his first court appearance after being charged with murder.
Bhanu Kirkman, 29, appeared in Maitland Local Court and did not apply for bail.
He was escorted into the room in handcuffs, a blue prison jumpsuit, and no shoes. As he sat in the dock, Mr Kirkman grinned from ear to ear before repeatedly mouthing "hello" to members of the media and waving both hands enthusiastically. During the brief court mention, Mr Kirkman kept his handcuffed hands held in front of his chest, with his palms open, facing Magistrate John Michael Chicken.
He told the magistrate "that's correct your Honour" when asked if he was aware he had been charged with murder. Mr Kirkman has been remanded in custody and will next appear in court via video link later this month.
Ms Powell, 39, was found dead in her Wollongong home, an hour south of Sydney, with severe head injuries on Thursday. The horrific discovery of the new mother's body was found by a friend just a few metres from her son, Slater.
A day later police said they were hoping to speak to a 29-year-old Thirroul man in relation to the alleged murder.
The man was arrested yesterday on outstanding warrants about 4pm in Maitland, about three hours north of the Bellambi home where Ms Powell was killed.
Homicide squad detectives had questioned the man about Ms Powell's death and announced late last night they had charged him with her murder.
He has been refused bail to appear in Maitland Local Court today.
No further details were released.
Over the weekend, police asked for assistance to find the 29-year-old, who was known to Ms Powell.
"(The man) resides in the Wollongong/Thirroul area. We believe he is someone that really will help us with our inquiries thus far," Detective Inspector Ainsworth told reporters on Saturday.
"We know he was an acquaintance of the deceased and we think he can maybe shed some light on where we're going (with the investigation) … A former employee - I don't know for how long.
Police said they had never received a formal complaint from Ms Powell about the man.
Det Insp Ainsworth said there were definite signs of physical injury and that the death was being treated as a homicide.
She had a significant amount of blood on her … there were definite signs of physical injury," he said.
"We're treating it as a homicide no doubt," he told reporters in Wollongong.
Before the arrest he confirmed some "disturbing" Facebook posts had been gathered as part of the inquiry.
Friends of Ms Powell's have mourned the beloved dog foster carer on social media and remembered her as a "beautiful soul".
A GoFundMe page set up for Slater, Ms Powell's child, exceeded its $10,000 goal in less than a day. Late yesterday the page had raised more than $15,500.
"To give him the life and all of the opportunities he deserves and that Kristie always wanted we felt it was fitting to raise some funds to hopefully make the next few weeks, months or years smoother," Kristy Corrigan wrote.
"So he can have new clothes when he needs, nutritious food, an abundance of books, good education and the best medical care available."
At the moment, Slater is staying with Ms Powell's brother Ryan, his wife Michelle and their children.
Yesterday, Michelle took to Facebook to post a photo of Slater sleeping, writing, "You are loved, you are safe, we are blessed."
She wrote: "He is a dream who is eating, sleeping and smiling. Having him with us has helped at this really horrible time."
In an earlier post she detailed how the family were coping with the tragedy by posting a picture of the family standing on a riverbank after they had been swimming.
"Yesterday we managed to find a ray of sunshine in a really tough day," she captioned the picture, later adding they were heading home to "snuggle a special little man who is so loved".
Ms Powell had previously documented how she searched for 22 years for a partner to have children with, but gave up and decided to try for her "very own perfect little prince".
"So after 22 years of dating & meeting many many many suitors that didn't suit I'm excited to announce that I'm now making my very own perfect little prince who will love me & stay with me forever … (who) is due to join the world in a few months time," she wrote.
"I can't thank my beautiful family & friends enough for their ongoing loving & encouraging support! I wouldn't be able to do this without you!"
In May she expressed her joy at giving birth to a baby boy.
"Last night at 9.26pm I officially became a Mummy!" she wrote. "He is my perfect prince now & forever more. I can't wait for everyone to meet him. We are both doing very well & hope to be home ASAP," she posted.