Sydney woman accused of killing mother made ‘startling outburst’ at funeral, court told

Irene Jones was found dead in her Lansvale home in November 2001. Credit:NSW Police

Months earlier, Ms Camelo-Gomez had traveled to Colombia to marry Mr Camelo-Gomez’ brother Cesar, a “sham marriage” for visa purposes, according to the Crown.

On September 17, 2001, she quit her job, and five days later, purchased a red Toyota Corolla for herself and a white Toyota Hilux utility for Carlos Camelo-Gomez.

By October that year, Mr Scully said, “the accused was under intense financial pressure and was receiving reminder notices for overdue bills”.

On November 2, 2001, Ms Camelo-Gomez and her mother went out for dinner, returning home about 7.45pm. Two hours later, Ms Camelo-Gomez knocked on her neighbors’ door and called triple 0.

She told the operator that she had been attacked by a man with blonde hair, wearing a stocking over his head, as she came out of the shower and found him in her bedroom going through her things.

She said the man had choked her and ripped her clothing. After the assault, she went to the lounge room and saw “stuff everywhere” but couldn’t find her mother.

Police found Ms Jones’ body lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen. Her cause of death was found to be ligature strangulation and stab wounds.

No charges were laid following an initial police investigation “spanning several years”, the prosecutor said. It was only after the case was later reviewed by the unsolved homicide team that Ms Camelo-Gomez was charged – on September 24, 2019, nearly 18 years after the alleged murder.

Mr Scully said there were no signs of forced entry to the home despite Ms Jones being “very security conscious”. He said the accused’s “relatively minor” injuries were “inconsistent with the severe assault she described”.

Defense barrister Belinda Rigg, SC, said her client was physically injured in the attack, and a hospital examination found bruising, lacerations and fingernail scratches to her neck.

Unlike her mother, Ms Camelo-Gomez was a large, strong woman who was “able to fight back” – even if the assailant had not intended to kill her, Ms Rigg said.

She said it would be “squarely disputed” her client was in a sexual relationship with Mr Camelo-Gomez in the lead-up to her mother’s death, and she did not see her marriage to his brother as a sham.

Rather, Mr Camelo-Gomez “exploited her kindness and generosity for his own benefit”, she said.

“He has told extensive lies to the police and the accused about his movements and whereabouts that night [November 2, 2001],” Ms Rigg said. “On the defense case, there’s no explanation of his lies other than him being conscious of his own guilt in relation to this crime.”

The trial continues.

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