BRENDEN Bennetts told a friend in England he was “trying to forget” the day after he allegedly murdered Gatton schoolgirl Jayde Kendall, a court has heard.
Bennetts, now aged 21, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but is on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court for murder as he denies he intended to cause Jayde’s death.
The jury has heard Bennetts is believed to have killed Jayde less than two hours after he picked her up from school on Friday, August 14, 2015. The 16-year-old’s body was too decomposed to determine a cause of death when it was discovered in a field on the outskirts of town 13 days later.
Jayde’s body was found in long grass on August 27 by retiree Tom Tate, who was investigating a strange smell on his property.
The court on Tuesday heard Bennett was speaking to a girl in England via Facebook in the days leading up to Jayde’s death.
The pair were sexually suggestive in their messages and also exchanged song lyrics and discussed the Harry Potter and Twilight books.
“Death is such a weird concept,” Bennetts told the 16-year-old girl. The court heard on August 15, the day after Jayde was killed, Bennetts told her he had “been better” but couldn’t talk about it, although it had nothing to do with his girlfriend.
“Just trying to forget,” he said.
“Trying to sleep my troubles away.”
On Monday the trial heard Bennetts searched for “best way to dispose of a body” on YouTube the day before he killed Jayde Kendall. However, it is not possible to tell what videos, if any, the 18-year-old actually looked at after he made the search.
The jury has heard Jayde and Bennetts started texting each other on Thursday, August 13 after the pair crossed paths at the McDonald’s where the 16-year-old worked.
Jayde previously went out with Bennetts’ friend Matthew Ross but the two had allegedly not moved in the same social circles for some time. The jury were told on Monday Bennetts used his phone to search for “best way to dispose of a body” at 12.19pm on the Thursday — but police could not determine if he looked at any of the search results.
Bennetts picked Jayde up after school about 3.25pm the next day in his distinctive red Toyota Corolla and was captured on CCTV driving out of town. He then allegedly texted Jayde’s bank account PIN to himself at 3.58pm. The court heard Bennetts’ phone allegedly communicated with two cell towers north of the isolated field where Jayde’s body was found between 4.24pm and 5.01pm.
Telecommunications specialist Detective Sergeant Adam Riley testified Jayde’s phone did not communicate with a cell tower outside the Gatton township during those times, possibly because it was out of battery, turned off or on aeroplane mode.
The Crown alleges Bennetts used Google Maps to find his way back to town, where he was captured on CCTV withdrawing $70 from Jayde’s account at a Commonwealth Bank ATM.
Bennetts allegedly deleted Jayde as a contact from his phone as well as any text messages they had sent to each other.
Jayde and Bennetts sent 48 messages to each other on the mobile app Snapchat but those images could not be recovered by police.
The trial continues.