Millicent mother-of-three Synamin Bell was allegedly “brutally beaten to death” in a “tragic case of domestic violence” inside her home in 2022, a court has heard. 

The trial of 27-year-old Cody James Edwards over the alleged murder of Ms Bell, 26, began today in the South Australian Supreme Court, sitting at Mount Gambier.

Ms Bell and Mr Edwards were in a relationship and were living together at Ms Bell’s Millicent home before she was found dead in her bedroom on March 12, 2022

Mr Edwards was arrested immediately and pleaded not guilty to Ms Bell’s alleged murder three days later.

In opening statements at the judge-only trial, crown prosecutors alleged Mr Edwards repeatedly struck Ms Bell over the head with a metal weapon with such force it “crushed the whole left side of the back of her head”. 

They said Ms Bell was also struck across other parts of her body while she lay face down on the floor of her bedroom. 

The court heard Mr Edwards then stabbed Ms Bell five times in the back after she had died. 

Police recovered a metal softball bat, a dumbbell bar, and a kitchen knife from the scene. 

Steven Millsteed KC, for Mr Edwards, said the defence case did not dispute that his client administered the blows that led to Ms Bell’s death. 

But, he said, the defence will argue Mr Edwards was acting in self-defence.

Witnesses tell court about night 

In opening statements, prosecutors said Mr Edwards called a friend of Ms Bell and confessed to killing her before crossing the road to a neighbour’s home. 

The prosecution told the court he then spoke to the neighbour and told them he killed Ms Bell, saying she was an “axe murderer”. 

Cody Edwards pleaded not guilty to killing Synamin Bell.(Facebook)

The court also heard Mr Edwards called Ms Bell’s mother and when asked where Ms Bell was, said “she’s dead, she’s in the house, she’s dead”.

Couple Emma Farley and Sean Sparks, two friends of Ms Bell, gave testimony that Mr Edwards called Ms Farley and confessed to killing Ms Bell on the night she was found dead. 

Ms Farley told the court she then received another call from Mr Edwards where he said they both had consumed LSD and things had “gone bad”. 

Both Ms Farley and Mr Sparks told the court Mr Edwards sounded “calm” while on the phone. 

The couple both said they drove to Ms Bell’s home together after receiving the calls and calling police to the scene. 

The court heard Mr Sparks approached Mr Edwards in the middle of the street when he arrived, where Mr Edwards again said “I killed her”.

Police then arrived on the scene and arrested Mr Edwards, before Mr Sparks then entered Ms Bell’s home and found her body.

Synamin Bell’s house in Millicent where her body was found.(ABC South East SA: Grace Whiteside)

Defence disputes accused’s state of mind

Mr Millsteed, in his opening statement for the defence, said Mr Edwards experienced a “full-blown paranoia psychosis” on the night of Ms Bell’s death after consuming psychoactive drugs.

Blood and urine samples taken the morning after showed Mr Edwards had in his body an amount of a drug called DOI that is known to be sold as LSD.

Mr Millsteed told the court it was in dispute whether Mr Edwards possessed the requisite intent for murder and whether he acted in self-defence.

He said Mr Edwards, in his psychotic state, believed Ms Bell intended to kill him so used the force that resulted in her death. 

Mr Millsteed said Mr Edwards could not be found guilty of murder if he genuinely believed his conduct was necessary and reasonable and in reasonable proportion to the threat he believed to exist.

The trial, in front of Supreme Court Justice Adam Kimber alone, will continue into next week.

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