A woman accused of murdering an Elong Elong man and feeding his body to pigs has been found not guilty.
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Kylie So, 50, sat in the dock wearing a string of white rosary beads as Justice Mark Ierace returned his verdict at the Supreme Court on Friday, November 10 in Sydney after a marathon eight-week trial in Dubbo.
The verdict will provide little closure for the family of 71-year-old grandfather Robert Dickie seven years after he went missing from his Wattle Road home in June 2016.
"Bulls--t," a cry from the gallery could be heard as the judge concluded his verdict.
Mr Dickie, a twice-married father-of-seven, was described by those who were close to him as a "homebody", "animal lover" and "man of routine" who loved his red Shelby Mustang.
However, there was an undercurrent of his life that he kept private from his loved ones including allegations of sexual assault, engagement of sex workers and regular interactions with Dubbo's drug underbelly.
Although no trace of his body has been found, Justice Ierace said the evidence before the court was enough to conclude he had died and offered condolences to Mr Dickie's family and friends.
"The trial has been a difficult experience for his family ... not least because there were revelations about his lifestyle which did not reflect well on him," he said.
As Justice Ierace walked through all the evidence presented during the trial, Ms So - who has been in custody since her extradition to Australia in 2020 - was assisted by a Vietnamese interpreter.
The former sex worker was born in Cambodia, but her family moved to Vietnam to escape the Pol Pot regime while she was a child. In the 1990s the family migrated to New Zealand where Ms So eventually underwent gender reassignment surgery.
She was a regular visitor to Australia and, in 2011, met Mr Dickie while she was working in Dubbo. The two rekindled their connection online in 2016 and Mr Dickie eventually invited Ms So to Elong Elong with promises of marriage.
Ms So arrived in Australia just days before Mr Dickie was reported missing by his sister.
The Crown alleged at some point following a visit to a neighbour on June 14, 2016, Mr Dickie told Ms So she could not stay with him despite his prior promises of marriage.
"[The crown case is] this so enraged her that she fatally assaulted him in his bedroom," Justice Ierace said, as he read his verdict.
"She disposed of his body in unknown means, most likely by feeding his body to the pigs and pitbull terriers that he kept on his property.
"I consider it unlikely the accused could have disposed of Mr Dickie's body ... without leaving traces of having done so."
Email transcripts read in court reveal, in the months leading up to Ms So's arrival in Australia, Mr Dickie had invited a number of women from overseas to travel to Elong Elong to be with him.
The court also heard Mr Dickie regularly exchanged drug money for sex with a number of women from the Dubbo area after the breakdown of his fourth long-term relationship.
Crown prosecutor Liam Shaw said these tendencies suggest Mr Dickie likely would have kicked Ms So out.
"I'm satisfied these alleged tendencies are established, the evidence of his behaviour was underscored by his assertion to the effect," he said.
"It is likely that at some point Mr Dickie told the accused she would not be staying long with him but she would have to leave, however, it was unprecedented for Mr Dickie to introduce one of his female guests to a friend."
In 2017, police found evidence of a "significant bloodshed event" and clean-up in the bedroom of Mr Dickie's home. Blood staining was found on the underlay of the carpet, on the bed frame and mattress and on three walls in the bedroom.
However, no blood was found anywhere else in the house, except for a drop on the screen of an iPad. No traces of his body were found despite extensive searches.
Justice Ierace said he "does not accept" the blood evidence as proof of expiration.
"I cannot eliminate the possibility that the blood stains were due to an earlier incident unrelated to his disappearance," he said.
"There was no expert evidence [of the animals eating Dickie's body]... If Dickie's body was devoured by animals there was no sign of teeth or bones despite forensic investigation of the dog and pig pens."
Defence counsel Ian Nash said the Crown's case could not prove Ms So's guilt beyond reasonable doubt nor rule out her version of events that Mr Dickie told her he was "going to a party" and would be "back by 10pm". He said Ms So has no history of violence.
Justice Ierace agreed, he said if Mr Dickie was planning on meeting up with a person or persons who had criminal intentions he might lie to the accused about where he was going.
He said Ms So's behaviour the day after Mr Dickie's disappearance proved she was expecting to stay in Australia long term and her attempt to call Mr Dickie with a phone she bought was "consistent with her innocence".
"There is a reasonable possibility the accused's version of events is accurate," he said.
"Mr Dickie has had associations with multiple local people who had long term issues with drug use and association with criminals."
With the not guilty verdict, mystery still remains - what happened to Robert Dickie?
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