Waikato woman Kim Richmond was found on the back seat of her car with some of her clothes wrapped tightly around the back of her neck, a court has heard.

The Crown alleges her Ford Ranger was dumped in Lake Arapuni in the Waikato 11 months earlier by Richmond's partner of 26 years Cory Jefferies, who is defending a charge of murder in the High Court at Hamilton this week.

Detective Constable James Walker was the officer in charge of the vehicle's recovery from the lake and opened the door of the Ranger once it had been hauled out by a crane.

Officers first opened the left rear door of the vehicle to find Richmond's body slightly curled up in the foetal position on the back seat, he said.

Advertisement

"She was facing backwards in a partial foetal position and appeared to be wearing a dark jacket.

"Most distinctively her chest and stomach area appeared to be free of clothing."

There appeared to be an empty plastic shopping bag like one from a supermarket over Richmond's head and torso. The detective also saw tufts of hair and skin about 200mm higher up on the seat.

Once her body had been removed they also noticed how her clothing had been tightly pulled up over the back of her neck.

Doctor Rexson Tse testified that due to Richmond's body being submerged in water for so long he was unable to identify any obvious external or internal injuries or any fractures or bone breaks.

Her cause of death was "undetermined" and he couldn't find any signs of violence.

It was possible that she suffered a head injury, either from a punch, kick or multiple punches, a sudden impact to the head or compression to the neck.

He was also unable to get a toxicology reading due to decomposition.

The Crown closed its case at 4pm, and together with the defence will deliver its closings in the morning.

Earlier today, in a police DVD interview with Detective Constable Janine Post played to the High Court at Hamilton, Jefferies also said cellphone reception in the Arohena, South Waikato, area where they lived was often poor and could take a couple of days to get text messages or alerts to missed calls.

Jefferies denies a charge of murdering Richmond, his partner of 26 years.

However, he does admit causing her death but says it was unintentional.

Richmond, 42, was missing for 11 months before her body was found inside their Ford Ranger which had been dumped in Lake Arapuni.

The couple had been socialising with other locals at the Arohena Hall in South Waikato.

After their night out a fight broke out in their car on the way home, sometime after 3.39am.

The Crown alleges Jefferies, 46, was an enraged, jealous partner who had told various people on different occasions that he wanted to "f****** kill the bitch" and he wanted "her gone".

Jefferies' DVD interview from August 19 was today played to the court.

He said she didn't wear her Fitbit as often as she used to and wasn't sure if she was wearing it the night she disappeared as she was wearing a jacket.

"She used to wear it all the time when she first got it but it petered out a bit."

She had owned it for between six months or a year, he said.

Jefferies said he texted Richmond at 1.22pm on the Sunday, the afternoon of her death, asking "what time are you back?"

He said he also texted her good friend Barbara Cottingham and then her mother the next day.

Their children also called and texted their mother, pleading for her to come home.

"Hi it's [daughter] where are you because I need you home here", a text is said to have read.

At the time, he said the children were managing to keep themselves busy on the farm and with visits from family and friends.

"Oh we told them, Mum's not here, we're looking for her … they pretty much know she's missing."

He said there had been "a couple of moments, but they're always just on the farm, get on their bikes".

He's then seen wiping a tear from his eye after he describes how they'd had a lot of visitors and he didn't believe the kids had "grasped the whole picture".

"There's always some action at the house. Until we find her, she comes home, yeah. I don't know."

Jefferies revealed he had also cheated on his partner by kissing another woman at a party at their home about two years earlier.

He told the detective he was "pissed off" at himself for doing it as he never thought he would do that to her.

He also told her about a time that he dragged Richmond out of the house in front of one of their sons.

"I dragged her by the arm out of the door … I'm not proud of what I did but I can't change that now can I?"

Asked about the mood at the end of the night at the Arohena Hall, Jefferies said it was the same from earlier on.

"Just cruising along having a few drinks."

Arohena farmer Grant Hawkes was one of the last people to see Kim alive when he farewelled the couple after the function at the Arohena Hall about 3.30am.

When asked by Crown prosecutor Ross Douch if he'd noticed any tension or issues between Jefferies and Richmond throughout the night, Hawkes said he hadn't.

"No, not at all. We just sat there … yeah, nah, it was just a social evening," he said.

Neither Jefferies nor Richmond appeared too intoxicated, he said, and he didn't notice any unusual behaviour.

THE AFFAIR
Yesterday, the man at the centre of the affair, Alfons Te Brake, explained how things became romantic in November 2015.

He said there had been kissing and cuddling between himself and Richmond on several occasions.

He recalled a couple of incidents in the following months when he was approached by Jefferies about an affair.

Kim Richmond was a champion at table tennis but loved all sports and was about to start training for a marathon before her death in July 2016.
Kim Richmond was a champion at table tennis but loved all sports and was about to start training for a marathon before her death in July 2016.

The most recent before her death was on July 9, 2016.

"[Jefferies] mentioned along the lines that he was going to f*** up my life and Kim's. I said, 'You go and help yourself.' I didn't ask him how he was going to do it."

CHANGING THE TRACK

Detective Craig Lemins told the court that Jefferies said the argument in the car home on the way home started after he changed the music from The Feelers CD to a radio station.

"I changed it to a different song," he said in his statement days after her disappearance. "Kim replied, 'Why don't you change it back to what it was."

He said he drove them home, parked their Ford Ranger, hung the keys up in the kitchen and went to bed.

He then watched, a few minutes later, as Kim got in the truck and drove out of the driveway.

BUSTED BY TECHNOLOGY

The Crown say it was a combination of tracking from the couple's cellphones and Richmond's Fitbit which helped them close in on who was responsible.

Her Fitbit recorded a period of elevated heartbeat between 3.30am and 3.39am as the couple helped tidy the hall before they set off and it calmed down.

Her last recorded heartbeat was at 3.43am.

After stopping on the side of the road, about 120m from home, cellphone records helped detectives track Jefferies' phone as it travelled to Lake Arapuni before it headed back home.

However, the tracking revealed it was moving much slower - at walking pace.

Jefferies eventually reported her missing on the Monday when he contacted Richmond's mother, Raywynne, asking if she had heard from or seen her daughter as he hadn't seen her since early Sunday morning.

WAS IT MURDER?

Defence counsel Tom Sutcliffe told the jury on Tuesday that just because his client accepted responsibility for Richmond's death it didn't mean he meant to cause it.

"It does not mean that he meant to cause her bodily injury that was known at the time be likely to cause her death.

"What you can accept ... is that the defendant is responsible for Kim Richmond's death.

"The defence say that in that instance that Mr Jefferies is therefore guilty of culpable homicide in that he committed the offence of manslaughter not murder."

He told the jury the issue was one of intent.

"The test is what his state of mind was at the time."