Jury told accused killer went to meet dad after stabbing girlfriend six times

Jury told accused killer went to meet dad after stabbing girlfriend six times

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In the hours after Ricardo Barbaro allegedly slit his girlfriend’s throat in the bedroom of her South Melbourne apartment, he went to visit his father.

Barbaro had been in a volatile on-again off-again relationship with exotic dancer Ellie Price, 26, and during the early hours of April 29, 2020, police allege he stabbed the young mother six times before leaving the bloodied scene in her white Mercedes-Benz.

Ricardo Barbaro arrives at court on Tuesday.Credit: Paul Jeffers

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court jury heard that Price’s accused killer left the apartment in Park Street to meet with his father Giuseppe “Joe” Barbaro in Williamstown. Soon after the pair travelled separately to a farm house in Diggers Rest.

From there, the alleged killer hired a Hiace van from his father’s workplace before driving to NSW where he was ultimately arrested.

Barbaro, who had been in a relationship with Price for about six months, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Price and maintains he was not the last person to see the young woman alive.

The first day of his murder trial heard police discovered Price’s body on the floor of her bedroom on May 4 while conducting a welfare check, about six days after they believe she was killed.

Ellie Price and, inset, Ricardo Barbaro

They found the door to the ground floor bedroom slightly ajar and the television on with Price dead on the floor. Outside, parcels laid uncollected at the front door.

A post-mortem found Price had sustained six stab wounds, including an 8 centimetre injury to her neck.

“There is six stab wounds, one to the throat, one to the back … one at the front,” Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke said.

“You can infer from that alone murderous intent.”

Ellie Price.

Bourke said Barbaro left the South Melbourne property about 4.30am on April 29 – the morning of her suspected murder – leaving in Price’s Mercedes-Benz via the Bolte Bridge.

It’s alleged Barbaro met up with his father in Williamstown about 7.30am, before the pair arrived separately at the Diggers Rest farm later the same day.

The prosecution allege Barbaro later visited a car yard where his father worked, sporting an injury to his arm, where he hired a Hiace. He then spent the night at the owner’s house before leaving the state on May 5.

Price’s Mercedes-Benz was subsequently found at the Diggers Rest property on May 7 before the accused man was arrested in NSW on May 14.

Price, who had a young son, had moved to Melbourne as an 18-year-old to work with horses before working as an exotic dancer at places including the Men’s Gallery.

Her mother said she would often leave her young son in Tasmania with family and fly back at least every three weeks to visit, rather than leaving him in childcare in Melbourne while she worked.

While she had few friends in Melbourne, Bourke said she had befriended a man named Mark Gray in about 2017 who provided financial support to her and her mother over the following years.

This included a reference and down payment for the South Melbourne apartment. But the pair had a falling out in the middle of 2019 over how much financial support Gray was providing Price before they reconciled in January 2020.

Tracey Gangell (brown jacket), mother of Ellie Price, at the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday.Credit: Paul Jeffers

Soon after though, Price attempted to extort $100,000 from Gray to open a salon, threatening to falsely report to police that he had raped her. He later deposited $25,000 into her bank account, the first of four expected payments, and planned to walk away from their friendship.

Defence barrister Rishi Nathwani said Price lived in a “different world” to many and raised questions about why Gray was paying the exotic dancer so much money – including a $1000 a week allowance – and what other forms of work she may have been engaged in.

He questioned whether Price lived the sort of life that might have caused other people to want to harm her.

“Were there any other people who she upset in the world she lived?” he said.

Price’s mother Tracey Gangell told the jury both her and her daughter had developed a close relationship with Gray, who was about 30 years older than Price, and confirmed he had provided them both money.

Gray, Barbaro’s father and forensic experts are among witnesses expected to give evidence at the trial over the next four weeks.

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