Ross Simon Fraser has admitted beating his partner Joanne Thompson to death in their home at Waiau, with a surprise guilty plea in Rangiora District Court today.

Fraser appeared before Judge Colin Doherty to enter the plea at a session where it had been expected a preliminary hearing date would be set.

Judge Doherty remanded 43-year-old Fraser in custody for sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch on July 9.

Fraser has been appearing in the Rangiora court on remand since he was arrested after nine days on the run in North Canterbury following the murder on February 15.

He was caught when he returned to their home in Parnassus Street, Waiau, on February 24.

Police said Fraser and Miss Thompson had been in a defacto relationship for seven years. They had an unsettled relationship punctuated with episodes of verbal and physical abuse on both sides.

Miss Thompson took out a protection order against him in 2007 but the couple reconciled. On February 9 Fraser moved out of their home again, and returned there on February 15 to get his belongings.

That evening he was out drinking with a group of young people and they were punching a punching bag. Fraser had boxed as a schoolboy.

After the boxing he was sitting, drinking at a table, when he said, "The devil's unleashing."

He then added: "Don't tell anyone I said that because people will think it is strange."

He was then asked to leave, and walked off carrying beer.

Miss Thompson was drinking heavily at her home, and made her last phone call at 10.36pm. The couple's two children, aged four and six years, were in bed.

There was an argument when Fraser turned up at the house.

A knife or sharp weapon was used to inflict a series of cuts on her right forearm and on her waist. There were two cuts on her left leg above the knee and cuts on her left hand. The police described these as defensive wounds.

The attack continued in the bathroom where she appeared to have been thrown around the room and struck numerous times. She was forcibly struck against the cast iron bath, handbasin, and the shower step. Her injuries included a broken nose, several skull fractures, a subdural haematoma to the brain, eight ribs fractured, as well as the knife wounds. There was blood in her lower airway.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Fraser left the house after the attack and spent nine days in hiding.

When he was caught and interviewed he said both he and Miss Thompson had been in a rage and drinking, and the incident was a blur because he had blacked out.

He said he was ashamed and felt he had let a lot of people down but said it was his home as well and he was too old to be shoved around.

The police summary said: "Pressed for details as to what he had done on the night, he was unable to elaborate except to say it had been brewing for years."

- NZPA

Man admits beating partner to death

Ross Simon Fraser has admitted beating his partner Joanne Thompson to death in their home at Waiau, with a surprise guilty plea in Rangiora District Court today.

Fraser appeared before Judge Colin Doherty to enter the plea at a session where it had been expected a preliminary hearing date would be set.

Judge Doherty remanded 43-year-old Fraser in custody for sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch on July 9.

Fraser has been appearing in the Rangiora court on remand since he was arrested after nine days on the run in North Canterbury following the murder on February 15.

He was caught when he returned to their home in Parnassus Street, Waiau, on February 24.

Police said Fraser and Miss Thompson had been in a defacto relationship for seven years. They had an unsettled relationship punctuated with episodes of verbal and physical abuse on both sides.

Miss Thompson took out a protection order against him in 2007 but the couple reconciled. On February 9 Fraser moved out of their home again, and returned there on February 15 to get his belongings.

That evening he was out drinking with a group of young people and they were punching a punching bag. Fraser had boxed as a schoolboy.

After the boxing he was sitting, drinking at a table, when he said, "The devil's unleashing."

He then added: "Don't tell anyone I said that because people will think it is strange."

He was then asked to leave, and walked off carrying beer.

Miss Thompson was drinking heavily at her home, and made her last phone call at 10.36pm. The couple's two children, aged four and six years, were in bed.

There was an argument when Fraser turned up at the house.

A knife or sharp weapon was used to inflict a series of cuts on her right forearm and on her waist. There were two cuts on her left leg above the knee and cuts on her left hand. The police described these as defensive wounds.

The attack continued in the bathroom where she appeared to have been thrown around the room and struck numerous times. She was forcibly struck against the cast iron bath, handbasin, and the shower step. Her injuries included a broken nose, several skull fractures, a subdural haematoma to the brain, eight ribs fractured, as well as the knife wounds. There was blood in her lower airway.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Fraser left the house after the attack and spent nine days in hiding.

When he was caught and interviewed he said both he and Miss Thompson had been in a rage and drinking, and the incident was a blur because he had blacked out.

He said he was ashamed and felt he had let a lot of people down but said it was his home as well and he was too old to be shoved around.

The police summary said: "Pressed for details as to what he had done on the night, he was unable to elaborate except to say it had been brewing for years."

- NZPA