Dulcie Birt
Dulcie Birt Contributed

Dulcie's blood found in ute

DULCIE Birt's blood was found in her ex-boyfriend's four-wheel-drive ute after she disappeared, a court was told.

The mother-of-three was reported missing in October 2009 and her ex-boyfriend Alwyn John Gwilliams, 41, was charged over her death in February last year.

Ipswich Magistrates Court was told yesterday during the first day of a committal-hearing into Ms Birt's death, that Gwilliams allegedly admitted to police “he was present when she died”.

A former friend of the accused told the court Gwilliams arrived at his home with the Mitsubishi Triton utility on October 24 and asked him to destroy his car.

“He asked me to burn the car,” the man told the court.

“He asked me to do him a favour – I said, anything for you.”

But the car was ultimately seized by police with a search warrant and swabs were taken – some of which tested positive to Ms Birt's DNA, the court was told.

The court was told Gwilliams sold his then friend his other car for $1000 but told him to “clean the boot with petrol” before using it.

The man said he did not initially come forward to police with the information because he feared for his safety.

He admitted he eventually gave a statement to police because he did not want to be charged with being an accessory to murder.

Defence barrister Simon Lewis told the court Gwilliams gave a version to police of a “four-wheel-drive accident” during which “Ms Birt suffered fatal injuries”.

“He disposed of Ms Birt's body in a panic in the waterway nearby,” Mr Lewis said.

Gwilliams then took police on a “walk around” during which he pointed out where he said he left Ms Birt's body, the court heard.

Detectives proceeded with a charge of murder against Gwilliams, despite his conflicting version of events.

Ms Birt's body has not been found, despite extensive police searches of the Ipswich area and Green Lakes using trained divers.

Ms Lewis suggested that if Gwilliams had mistakenly pointed out the wrong location, as it would have been dark on the night of the alleged incident, then police may have been searching in the wrong area for her body due to incorrect calculations on water currents.

Police believe Ms Birt, 31, died on the night of October 21 or in the early hours of October 22, 2009.

Detective Sergeant Heath McQueen told the court the case was initially a “missing persons” investigation when he was handed the file on October 26 but a major incident room had already been established.

Another police officer told Ipswich Magistrates Court it “wasn't unusual to not see (Ms Birt) for a period of time and then she would reappear”.

A police mechanic who examined Gwilliams' vehicle said a “crease” to the bull bar was consistent with a slow-speed collision into a thin hard object – such as a corner of a brick house.

The vehicle had other dents and dings and there were sticks and stones still stuck to the underneath of the cab when it was examined by police.

The court heard more than 20 “substances”, which could be blood, were found in the cab and tray of Gwilliams' ute and a partial bloody palm print was left on the driver's side.

Of the samples from the ute sent to forensic scientists, five were matched to Ms Birt's DNA.

Mr Lewis said Ms Birt's family had received threats from drug dealers before her death due to her “unfortunate past”.

Gwilliams appeared in court wearing a light denim jacket, white polo shirt and jeans and scribbled notes throughout the hearing yesterday.

He faces a charge of murder and has not yet entered a plea.

The committal hearing continues this week before Magistrate Michael Quinn.

Gwilliams remains in custody.

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