Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Man admits killing his 'greatest friend'

Tracey Lee Morris. Photo / Supplied
Tracey Lee Morris. Photo / Supplied

A truck driver has admitted murdering a former lover and "one of his greatest friends'' after they enjoyed a quiet dinner at his Christchurch home.

At a Christchurch District Court hearing this morning, Keith Bonner, 53, pleaded guilty to the brutal killing of Papanui mother Tracey Morris in January.

Ms Morris' body was found in the back of an abandoned car near Christchurch International Airport on January 6.

The pair had been in a sexual relationship, but that ended in 1994 or 1995, the court heard.

According to the police summary of facts, Bonner contacted Ms Morris on New Year's Eve and they arranged to meet for dinner at his house in the quiet Coniston Ave, Ilam on January 3.

She drove her blue Honda Civic to Bonner's house about 6.20pm after finishing work.

He had set up the sunroom for her to stay the night so she could enjoy a drink.

They ate dinner, drank bottles of wine she'd brought and smoked some cannabis.

After dinner, they watched a Dire Straits DVD and when that finished Bonner put on a Corrs DVD for Ms Morris to watch while he washed the dishes in the kitchen.

Ms Morris, who worked and socialised at the Phoenix Bar and Cafe in Papanui, was seated in a La-Z-Boy chair when Bonner came back into the room and attacked her from behind.

She received skull and eye socket fractures, a broken nose, broken tooth, extensive facial bruising and two lacerations to the back of her head caused by "a very forceful collision with a rounded-edged item,'' Crown prosecutor Kathy Bell told the court.

Bonner removed the unconscious woman's leggings, assaulted her genital area and bit her left breast, leaving a bite mark.

He strangled the woman with the leggings, which was the ultimate cause of death, although Ms Bell said the head injuries were life-threatening in their own right.

Bonner then dragged his friend's body through the lounge, out the back door and into her car.

He dumped the car at Greys Rd, near the airport, with the victim semi-naked and face-up, to be found by a passing jogger three days later.

The next day he handed himself in to Papanui Police Station "after reading about the matter in the newspaper'', Ms Bell said.

He told them he couldn't remember much but "something heinous had happened''.

"The last position of the victim as recalled by the accused was of her sitting in the La-Z-Boy chair watching The Corrs and him doing the dishes,'' the Crown says.

"The next recollection of the accused was waking up in the morning and the lounge looking like a 'bombsite' and that there was blood on the floor.

"The blood in the area by the La-Z-Boy ... was described by the accused as if 'someone had spilt a big, really big glass of wine on the floor'.''

Bonner, who appeared in the dock wearing a blue jacket and greying facial hair, told police he was "100 per cent certain that I am responsible for Tracey's death'', Ms Bell said.

A charge of sexual violation was withdrawn by the Crown.

Judge Gary MacAskill remanded Bonner in custody for sentencing at the High Court at Christchurch next month.


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