Campbell Paterson was stabbed in the neck, dismembered and stuffed in a chilly bin, a court has heard.

A Cairns Supreme Court jury has heard gory details of the Napier man's death today, The Cairns Post reports.

Mr Paterson's dismembered body was found in a large chilly bin about 100m from the nearest road in bushland at Edmonton, about 15km southeast of Cairns on November 19, 2014.

He had not been reported missing but police became concerned after Mr Paterson failed to appear in a Cairns court twice in October 2014.

David Hickson has been accused of murdering Paterson and dismembering his body. Photo / Supplied by Cairns Post
David Hickson has been accused of murdering Paterson and dismembering his body. Photo / Supplied by Cairns Post

Police later arrested Far North Queensland man David Leslie Hickson, 32, and charged him with murder and interfering with a corpse.

At day one of the trial yesterday, he pleaded guilty to interfering with a dead body but not guilty to murder.

Today crown prosecutor Nigel Rees told the court: "You will hear a police interview where the accused admits to killing (Mr Paterson)... But said it was in self defence," The Cairns Post reports.

Mr Rees said Mr Hickson told police "we both sort of reached for something at the same time and he was slower than me I guess."

"He also told police that he put the body in an esky [chilly bin] but it didn't fit... so he sawed off (Mr Paterson's) legs," Mr Rees said.

The jury was told Mr Hickson's neighbour would give evidence that he lent him a saw.
Another witness will also give evidence that Mr Hickson threatened his life with a firearm if he didn't give him a lift to dispose of the chilly bin.

Mr Paterson had been working in the area and returning to Napier regularly to see his family, including four children.

He was known in Napier for street art, including a mural in his home community of Maraenui, where he had taught at Maraenui Bilingual School.

But in Cairns he also became known for some involvement with drugs. Charges he was facing at the time of his death included driving under the influence of methamphetamine and serious assault on a police officer.

Police believe his death was associated with drugs, and that Mr Paterson was stabbed by Hickson.

Mr Paterson's body was brought back to Hawke's Bay in November 2014. To help with the costs of repatriation, his Napier-based family raised nearly $5000 via the Give a Little website.