An archived recording of a triple-0 call made by slain mum Ellie Price saying she was “scared” of her new boyfriend has been played to a jury.
Ricardo Barbaro, 36, is facing trial accused of murdering Ms Price, 26, at her South Melbourne apartment in April 2020.
Prosecutors allege he stabbed the mother of one in an early morning “violent altercation” on April 29 before leaving in her luxury Mercedes Benz “never to return”.
Mr Barbaro has pleaded not guilty, with his lawyer, Rishi Nathwani, labelling the case a “whodunit”.
“To be clear this is a whodunit, that is Mr Barbaro denies that he killed Ellie Price,” he said in his opening remarks to the jury.
“His case is simple; he did not cause the death of Ellie Price … he was not the last person to see her alive.”
Mr Barbaro returned before the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday as police witnesses were called to give evidence about several alleged acts of violence in their relationship.
Previously, the court was told the pair had begun dating around August 2019.
In a triple-0 phone call played to the court, Ms Price says Mr Barbaro allegedly smashed her car up as they were driving back from a dinner reservation.
She tells the operator they had been in a relationship “for about a week”.
“We had an argument at dinner and it continued … he started smashing the car up,” she said.
“I was so terrified and felt helpless.
“I don’t want to be in a relationship with him because he scared me.”
Another witness, Australian Federal Police officer Senior Constable Lee Walker told the court that he had met Ms Price at the Cairns airport about 7.35pm on February 16, 2020.
He told the court her eyes were red, her hands were shaking and her voice was wavering, forming the opinion that she was “very upset and distressed”.
Constable Walker agreed that Ms Price told him she had allegedly been twice assaulted by Mr Barbaro earlier the same day and the day prior.
Ms Price said Mr Barbaro had allegedly hit her, smashed her phone, taken her belongings and kicked her out of their hotel room, Constable Walker told the court.
Under cross-examination from Mr Nathwani, Constable Walker agreed he did not conduct any investigation into the allegations as that was the purview of Queensland Police.
Mr Nathwani said Queensland Police records indicated that officers were called to the hotel on February 14 and 16 but formed the view that “no further action could be taken”.
He said police confirmed there was an argument on February 14, but there were no marks on Ms Price, and witness accounts backed up Mr Barbaro’s version of events.
At the start of the trial, prosecutors, led by Damien Hannan, said Ms Price’s body was discovered in her blood-soaked apartment on May 4 by police conducting a welfare check.
He said it was alleged that Mr Barbaro killed her days earlier on April 29 before leaving the scene in her Mercedes Benz around 4.30am.
Mr Barbaro was arrested 10 days later on May 14 in NSW after allegedly leaving Victoria once he became aware police were searching for him.
In his opening remarks, Mr Nathwani told the jury that there was no dispute his client left after police reported the death, but what was in question was why.
“The prosecution say he was running after having killed her. Is there another explanation?” he said.
The trial, before Justice Lex Lasry, continues.