Warning: This story contains graphic and violent content.

A veteran police officer touched what looked like human skin with the back of his hand through a tear in some black plastic, dumped in a rusty steel drum.

It was a miserable night - cold, dark, windy and raining.

Senior Sergeant Matthew Child had been tasked with looking for a body at an abandoned state home in South Auckland.

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What he touched was "rigid, stiff, cold".

"Stone cold," Child said. "Absolutely no signs of life."

It was the body of a teenage girl, Dimetrius Pairama.

Just hours earlier, prosecutors say, the 17-year-old was given the chilling choice of how she wanted to die, the High Court at Auckland has heard.

Death by hanging or by stabbing.

She was also allegedly tortured before her body was hidden in the drum.

Ashley Winter, also known as Toko Shane Rei Winter, 29, and Kerry Te Amo, 25, are on trial, accused of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Pairama.

Pairama may have also met three other police officers before her death. They knocked on the door of the vacant Housing New Zealand property on Buckland Rd the day before her body was found on July 8 last year.

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They were met at the door by a young, crying woman.

Dimetrius Pairama's body was found in a vacant house in South Auckland. Photo / Supplied
Dimetrius Pairama's body was found in a vacant house in South Auckland. Photo / Supplied

Constables Riki Naera, Charley Kirkman and Dice Scanlan had arrived at the property about 9.45am on July 7.

Naera told the court the trio went to the house to obtain a statement from a woman named Ashleigh Tonga.

He said he could hear people moving inside the house but it was a while before anyone answered their knocks on the door.

A young woman opened, Naera said, she was or had been crying.

The officers asked if the young woman, whom prosecutors believe was Pairama, wished to walk to the police car to continue their conversation.

But then another "more dominant" woman, described as transgender, came to the door and told the officers Ashleigh Tonga wasn't there, Naera said.

Police investigate the home in Mangere where 17-year-old Dimetrius Pairama was found. Photo / Doug Sherring
Police investigate the home in Mangere where 17-year-old Dimetrius Pairama was found. Photo / Doug Sherring

Naera's colleague said the younger girl was "very timid".

"She was extremely quiet and she just had a very meek demeanour," Kirkman told the court during his testimony.

But the young girl stayed.

It may have been the last opportunity for Pairama to leave the horror house.

Yesterday, the Crown Solicitor at Manukau Natalie Walker told the court the girl was beaten, tied to a chair and gagged.

Her naked body was also burned with an aerosol can and cigarette lighter, Walker said.

She was then given an impossible choice to make and strung up from a pole with a makeshift noose made out of old sheets, the court heard.

Her body was cut down and wrapped in the sheets and plastic and dumped inside a steel drum, amongst some weeds, Walker said.

"Sometimes we can never know why things happen."

Ashley Winter, pictured in the dock on day one of her trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Sam Hurley
Ashley Winter, pictured in the dock on day one of her trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Sam Hurley

Police first began investigating a possible homicide after breaking up a fight near Britomart in central Auckland.

Walker said the group who were at the house when Pairama died had turned on each other.

After the fight, Senior Sergeant Child and two other constables were tasked with searching for a body at the Buckland Rd house.

It was about 10.30pm on a Sunday.

"It was a pretty miserable night - cold, dark, windy, raining," Child told the court.

After clearing the back of the property, one of the officers went inside the building through a window to search.

"The house was in a very poor state. It looked like it had rough sleepers at a time - holes in the walls, carpet missing, doors missing, graffiti on the walls," Child said.

"Something that still stands out is the smell ... you could almost taste it more than anything else. Almost a burnt smell."

Kerry Te Amo is one of two people accused of murdering Dimetrius Pairama. Photo / Sam Hurley
Kerry Te Amo is one of two people accused of murdering Dimetrius Pairama. Photo / Sam Hurley

The team of officers then went on to check the next property but Child said something just didn't feel right.

"The information that was coming through was just so out there," he said.

A further tip about a steel drum was sent to the team.

So, Child ordered his team to sweep the property again.

A steel barrel was found.

Upon inspection and through a tear in some black plastic, Child said he saw what looked like human skin and hair follicles.

He touched it with the back of his hand.

A teenager, who has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence, is expected to tell the court what she saw and heard at the Buckland Rd home, Walker said.

Winter, a transgender woman, has pleaded guilty to kidnapping but denies murdering Pairama.

Te Amo has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Their trial is expected to last three to four weeks.