Nobody expects their Wednesday morning commute to end in a desperate rescue, but when drivers saw a frantic hand waving out of a car tail light they were yet to find out the kind of fate they saved a young woman from.
In a case that rocked a small town on Sydney's outskirts, 24-year-old Nisha Phillips was found in the boot of her own Holden Commodore on the Hume Highway at Berrima on February 3, 2021, and pregnant teen Latia Henderson and Kayley Lee Ketley were arrested.
For more than 12 hours before dramatic police intervention, Henderson, then 19, and Ketley, then 24, had tortured the victim.
As both girls have now pleaded guilty to their involvement, chilling conversations that led to the stabbing and the plan to dump Phillips' body in the notorious Belanglo State Forest can be revealed.
NCA NewsWire can reveal the harrowing details of what happened between 10.30pm on February 2, 2021, and the following morning when Phillips was seen desperately waving out of a tail light by shocked motorists.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
On the evening of February 2, 2021, Henderson texted a friend and asked her to smoke cannabis with her, despite being 12 weeks pregnant at the time, according to court documents.
"Do u (sic) want to get blaze?" she messaged the friend.
Court documents state Henderson and Ketley were being driven around by Phillips for most of the night before planning to get high because they did not have licences.
At about 3.24am, the pair were in Phillips' car when she felt "tension" and asked Ketley, "Do we have a problem?"
According to court documents, Ketley became enraged and threw a bottle on the floor of the car before saying: "Why can't I just sit here, why do you have to be straight on me all the time?"
Phillips told her to "chill", but Ketley asked her to change the music and go through a McDonald's. Phillips refused.
"Latia is pregnant and she needs to eat, that is so rude," Ketley said.
Phillips replied: "I need to get off the road because I'm really tired."
According to court documents, Ketley asked Henderson where the knife was before leaning forward and saying: "I will slit your throat without even blinking, with no effort at all."
Ketley repeatedly asked where the knife was as she questioned why Phillips "hit on Latia".
The victim denied the claims and said she was "just being a nice person", while Henderson urged her accomplice to "leave it alone".
"SQUEAL LIKE A PIG"
They arrived at a Glenfield house at 3.47am. Phillips relaxed on the couch as the others disappeared upstairs before Ketley returned holding a knife.
"All you had to do was stop, all you had to do was stop," Ketley said as she stabbed Phillips in the left knee and upper right thigh.
Phillips froze in fear but Ketley continued her threats: "I am going to make you squeal like a pig. I just need to let it all out. Last time this happened I got four and a half years and this time it's not going to happen like that.
"Today I am going to kill you."
Phillips attempted to put pressure on her wounds and stayed silent while Ketley took her car keys and phone.
Henderson and Ketley left the house about 5am in Phillips' car and returned 47 minutes later. Ketley said it was a "shame" the victim was still alive.
"I guess we are going to have to like, drag this on now, hey, like I was hoping you would have just, you know, given up," Ketley said, according to court documents.
Ketley briefly left before returning with another 30cm-long kitchen knife and forced Phillips to stand up.
"I'm not going to be able to get up, you stabbed me in the knee," Phillips told her attacker.
According to court documents, Ketley threatened to stab her again as she held the knife against Phillips' back.
"Don't make a scene or I will kill you right here," she threatened.
FORCED INTO THE BOOT
Ketley popped the boot of the car open and told Phillips to get in, but she begged not to be hurt anymore.
Ketley gritted her teeth and said 'shut the f**k up and get in the f**king boot'," court documents state.
"This is what happens to people that want to find out why you don't f**k with me," Ketley said.
Ketley began to drive away at 7am as Phillips lay terrified in the boot with a shoelace as a makeshift tourniquet to control the bleeding.
She could hear Henderson attempt to calm Ketley down, but she remained enraged and said it was "too late now, we have to get rid of her".
At one point, the pair stopped and opened the boot. Henderson took the knife and stabbed Phillips in her arms before again driving away, according to court documents.
At 8.55am, the car pulled into an Ambarvale house where Phillips heard someone say: "Who's in the back? They better deserve this, I don't want to be part of this unless they deserve it."
Ketley replied: "F**k her, don't worry about her, she's fine I just want to have a smoke."
The boot opened and the victim told a man that she believed Ketley was going to kill her.
Ketley demanded Phillips get back into the boot before again driving off and smoking cannabis.
BELANGLO STATE FOREST
Henderson jumped into the front seat as they drove south on the Hume Highway, with her phone searching for directions to Belanglo State Forest.
During the drive, they sang along to music and filmed videos, according to court documents.
Despite passing out a few times, Phillips managed to remove the car's left tail light and put her hand out of the hole, waving at cars to indicate that she was in the boot.
At about 11.30am, motorists on the Hume Highway noticed the car was being driven erratically and called the police.
A police officer driving an unmarked police car saw Phillips' hand and stopped the car near Berrima, about 6km from the Belanglo turnoff.
When questioned about who was in the boot, Henderson, who was then driving, pretended she didn't know anyone else was in the car.
Special Constable Brendan Quinn walked to the back of the car, leaned towards the tail light and said "what's your name love?" before he folded down the rear seats and found the victim.
According to court documents, Henderson and Ketley both panicked when they were asked why someone was in the boot.
They were again pressed about Phillips, with Henderson replying "I don't know" and Ketley saying "what the f**k bro".
Phillips told the police through tears that she was taken hostage by the two women.
THE VICTIM'S INTERVIEW
While distressed, Phillips participated in a recorded interview and said the disagreement in the car about music led to the attack.
"She (Ketley) got really mad over that question … started verbally attacking me … threatening me … big talk," Phillips told police.
"She started escalating really quick … like it was zero to 100 in like one second flat."
Phillips confessed to smoking ice after she was stabbed because it helped with the pain, according to court documents.
Ketley denied stabbing Phillips and said she had no idea she was in the car but was told by another woman to pick up the Commodore at an Ambarvale carpark and drive it back to a hire location in Colo Vale.
In her police interview, Ketley said her fingerprints would not be found on the knife.
Henderson also participated in a police interview where she made partial admissions to the offences, saying she knew Phillips was in the car but did not know when she had been stabbed.
The 19-year-old told police she wiped the blood off the back of the car with a tea towel, saying it was an "iffy" situation.
She also confessed to police that she was 12 weeks pregnant but took Xanax and ice at one of the houses, according to police documents.
Earlier this month, Henderson and Ketley pleaded guilty to their roles in Phillips' kidnapping.
Henderson, who was released on Supreme Court bail just weeks before she gave birth to her son in August last year, pleaded guilty to a charge of take and drive conveyance and take/detain in company with the intent to commit serious indictable offence occasioning actual bodily harm.
The 20-year-old also pleaded guilty to a related charge of driving without a licence and had two further charges dismissed.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Ketley remains behind bars and pleaded guilty to two charges of take and drive conveyance without consent of the owner, kidnap in company with the serious indictable occasion, reckless wounding and causing grievous bodily harm to the person with intent.
Ketley pleaded guilty to a backup charge of possessing a prohibited drug and had six charges withdrawn.
They will appear in court next month.