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Telstra technician witnessed West Footscray shooting death

Date

Mark Russell

A Telstra technician was working in a West Footscray street when he heard a woman, who was later shot dead by her de-facto husband, ask her partner's father, 'Where are your balls now?" a court has heard.

An angry and agitated Helen Curtis told 74-year-old Michael Bracken "you've got a big f...ing mouth", technician Gerard Prior told the Supreme Court.

Minutes later Mr Bracken's son, Phillip, arrived at Clive Street and shot Ms Curtis dead.

Phillip Bracken, 45, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Curtis, 58, his de-facto wife of four years, on Monday afternoon, November 19, 2012.

He claims he killed Helen in self-defence after having been abused, controlled, threatened and intimidated by her.

Mr Prior told the court on Monday that he was working outside 66 Clive Street when Ms Curtis drove into the street and began swearing loudly at Michael Bracken.

Ms Curtis began to follow Mr Bracken along the street but he backed away and managed to keep a distance between them.

Mr Prior returned to work before hearing the woman phone someone and tell them to get down to Clive Street.

Phillip Bracken arrived soon after.

Mr Prior heard Michael Bracken say to someone, "She threatened to kill me."

He was then shocked and terrified to hear three loud bangs.

Mr Prior looked around and saw a woman lying on the road. There was blood on the road and blood in the woman's hair.

It took 42 seconds from the time Phillip Bracken arrived in Clive Street to when he shot Ms Curtis.

Crown prosecutor Peter Rose, SC, told the jury Phillip Bracken shot Ms Curtis five times at close range with a rifle he had taken from her car.

Mr Rose said Phillip murdered Helen because he was angry at the way she had been treating his father.

He said Michael Bracken claimed Helen had earlier punched and kicked him and tried to grab him around the neck before she was shot dead by Phillip Bracken.

The shooting was captured by a security camera across the road at 68 Clive Street and the footage has been shown to the jury.

Defence barrister Ruth Shann said Phillip had been acting in self defence.

"You can see Phillip's reaction on that footage, you can see his reaction to Helen, and the prosecution say that's a reaction born out of anger," Ms Shann told the jury.

"That's something for you to really think about as you look at the evidence. But that reaction is stark and it's confronting. There's no dispute that he reacted in that moment by shooting her. But how did she appear to him in that moment?

"What sort of a threat did she appear to pose?

"How did the gun get in her car?

"What's she doing with a gun at Michael Bracken's house?

"What does Phillip know about that? What was she intending to do? What did Phillip think she was intending to do? What if anything had happened earlier in the day between them; between Helen and Phillip?"

The trial, before Justice Chris Maxwell, continues.

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